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The Changing Face of Debt and Financial Fragility at Older Ages


  • Annamaria Lusardi
  • Olivia S. Mitchell
  • Noemi Oggero


We investigate changes in older individuals' financial fragility as they stand on the verge of retirement. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we compare how debt has changed for successive cohorts of people age 56–61. Our analysis shows that recent older Americans close to retirement hold more debt, and hence face greater financial insecurity, than earlier generations. This is primarily due to having bought more expensive homes with smaller down payments. We discuss possible policy implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell & Noemi Oggero, 2018. "The Changing Face of Debt and Financial Fragility at Older Ages," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 108, pages 407-411, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:apandp:v:108:y:2018:p:407-11
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pandp.20181117

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies


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