Women and Debt – what is the reason for the increase in bankruptcy among women?

The Insolvency Service has reported an increase in the number of women who have been declared insolvent from 2000 to 2009. Is this due to poor money management by women? or is this more of a social issue due to the pay inequalities many women face compared to men?

The Independent recently published an article stating that debt is a feminist issue. Figures released by the Insolvency Service showed a vast increase in women who were declared insolvent from 6,042 in 2000 to 29,680 women in 2009.

There were two main reasons put forward to try and explain the increase in women facing bankruptcy. The first, and perhaps the most obvious reason, was irresponsible spending: designer clothes, handbags and shoes, holidays abroad, expensive beauty treatments and everything else a woman would need to try and emulate the her favourite celebrity. The other viewpoint, is that more women are finding themselves in debt because of

“unemployment, pay inequality and childcare costs”.

women in debtTwo ClearDebt clients, Kimberlea and Laura, had their stories featured in the article. Both told of how they came to be in debt and how they were managing their finances now. From the comments left on the article they were judged, quite harshly in some cases, as being in debt solely due to irresponsible spending.

Whilst on the outside this may seem the case, the article didn’t really look into the pressures faced by many young women today which could lead to this so-called irresponsible spending. It’s hard to avoid witnessing the celebrity lifestyle which has been thrust upon us, from the gossip magazines and celebrity reality tv shows to celebrity-endorsed “must-have” products. When you consider this whole culture of celebrity you can get a clearer view of the pressures many women face, to look good, to be socialising in the right places and even to be eating the right foods. It’s easy to see how young women can fall into the trap of buying on credit cards and getting into debt to fit in with their peers.

There’s also the issue of the difference between living costs between men and women. The US based Consumer Reports Magazine, conducted a survery looking at the prices of bathroom products aimed at men and women. They found that the women’s equivalent of the same product could be up to 50% more expensive than the men’s product. When research like this is coupled with the issue of the gender pay gap, you can see a pattern of women having to spend more than men for everyday living, and yet earning less money than men. Not quite irresponsible spending after all.

Regardless of the reasons behind the increase in bankruptcy among women, the best thing we can advise for anyone, male or female, old or young, who is worried about their debts is to get help as soon as possible. Get in touch on 0800 019 2095 or take ClearDebt’s online debt analyser to find out your options.

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