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Who are the Debt Poor?


  • Steven Pressman
  • Robert Scott


Our previous research argued that interest payments on consumer debt should be subtracted from household income to measure poverty. We estimated 4 million additional poor Americans in 2007, calling them "debt poor." This paper finds that the debt poor are somewhat like the poor (they are unlikely to own a home or have private health insurance), somewhat like middle-class households (race), and in-between in other ways (education levels). Debt poor households were likely middle class once, having access to considerable consumer credit; but following a loss of income, their large debt burden put their living standard below their poverty threshold.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Pressman & Robert Scott, 2009. "Who are the Debt Poor?," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(2), pages 423-432.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:jeciss:v:43:y:2009:i:2:p:423-432
    DOI: 10.2753/JEI0021-3624430215

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Pressman and Scott on measuring poverty
      by Mark D. White in Economics and Ethics on 2009-10-23 17:49:19


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

    Cited by:

    1. Todorova, Zdravka, 2013. "Consumption as a Social Process within Social Provisioning and Capitalism: Implications for Heterodox Economics," MPRA Paper 51516, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Carolina Rezende Pereira & Suzane Strehlau, 2016. "Social Bond Development Through Continuous Indebtedness," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 241-259, June.
    3. Robert Scott & Steven Pressman, 2013. "Household Debt and Income Distribution," LIS Working papers 589, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    4. Alan Walks, 2014. "From Financialization to Sociospatial Polarization of the City? Evidence from Canada," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 90(1), pages 33-66, January.

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