The gender gap in consumer insolvency filings is narrowing and is now almost 50/50 according to a study conducted by Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc.
"In 2012, 42% of insolvencies were filed by women," says Ted Michalos. "Today, that percentage has increased to 49%. What we see are women filing insolvency in increasing numbers, with less debt than men."
The average female debtor files insolvency on $43,414 in unsecured debt, 21% less than male debtors. Women file insolvency with an unsecured debt-to-income ratio of 147%, much lower than the 177% for male debtors in our study.
"Women face specific financial challenges that increase their reliance on debt yet make that same debt harder to manage" adds Doug Hoyes. "When reviewing the risk profile of our average client, we found that women are more likely to be single parents, more likely to carry student debt, more likely to be divorced or separated and more likely to be widowed seniors than males filing insolvency."
On average, 26% of women filing insolvency in 2018 were single parents, more than 3 times that of male debtors (8%). At the same time, 22% carry student debt compared to just 13% for male debtors. More than 1 in 4 (26%) are divorced or separated versus 20% for male debtors. Among those 60 and older, 25% are widowed compared to 8% of male debtors.
Women filing insolvency earn 4.5% less, on average, than male debtors. This gap widens to 32% when comparing single women raising a family to the household income for two-parent families filing insolvency.
"It is important for women to avoid high cost debt like credit card debt and payday loans" says Doug Hoyes. "The added interest expense only reduces any money they have available to cover living costs in the future. If you are struggling with debt repayment, talk with a professional like a Licensed Insolvency Trustee early to keep your options open."