Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Credit card debts of the poor: High and rising


Author Info

  • Edward J. Bird

    (University of Rochester)

  • Paul A. Hagstrom

    (Department of Economics, Hamilton College)

  • Robert Wild

    (Department of Economics, Hamilton College)

  • Janet A. Weiss

    (School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220)


In this article we report on a little-known aspect of the consumer credit explosion: It has also happened among the poor. Focusing on credit cards, we use data from four releases of the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), 1983-1995, to trace the evolution of the debt position of the poor as compared to that of the population at large. The data indicate that from 1983 to 1995 the fraction of poor households with a credit card more than doubled, and the average balances held on these cards rose almost as rapidly as the balances of nonpoor households. In 1983, fewer than 1 in 30 poor households had credit card debts greater than twice their monthly incomes; by 1995, more than 1 in 8 did. There is no strong evidence at the moment that the added debt has increased the financial distress of these households. Nonetheless, because of the debt increase, poor households at the end of the 1990s are more vulnerable to an economic downturn than they were at the end of the 1980s.© 1998 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management

Download Info

To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
1. Check below under "Related research" whether another version of this item is available online.
2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 18 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 125-133

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:18:y:1999:i:1:p:125-133

Contact details of provider:
Web page:

Related research



References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Ian Domowitz & Robert L. Sartain, . "Incentives and Bankruptcy Chapter Choice: Evidence from the Reform Act of 1978," IPR working papers, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University 98-7, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  2. Brito, Dagobert L & Hartley, Peter R, 1995. "Consumer Rationality and Credit Cards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 400-433, April.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Christian Weller, 2010. "Have Differences in Credit Access Diminished in an Era of Financial Market Deregulation?," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 68(1), pages 1-34.
  2. Christian Weller, 2009. "Credit Access, the Costs of Credit and Credit Market Discrimination," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 7-28, March.
  3. Joanna Stavins, 2000. "Credit card borrowing, delinquency, and personal bankruptcy," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jul, pages 15-30.
  4. Grinstein-Weiss, Michal & Spader, Jonathan & Yeo, Yeong Hun & Taylor, Andréa & Books Freeze, Elizabeth, 2011. "Parental transfer of financial knowledge and later credit outcomes among low- and moderate-income homeowners," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 78-85, January.
  5. Yunhee Chang & Angela Lyons, 2007. "Are Financial Education Programs Meeting the Needs of Financially Disadvantaged Consumers?," NFI Working Papers 2007-WP-02, Indiana State University, Scott College of Business, Networks Financial Institute.
  6. Zhan, Min & Sherraden, Michael, 2011. "Assets and liabilities, race/ethnicity, and children's college education," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 33(11), pages 2168-2175.
  7. Pryor, Frederic L., 2007. "The anatomy of increasing inequality of U.S. family incomes," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 595-618, August.
  8. Heather Boushey & Christian E. Weller, 2006. "Inequality and Household Economic Hardship in the United States of America," Working Papers, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs 18, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.


This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:18:y:1999:i:1:p:125-133. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.