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Working and Living in the Shadow of Economic Fragility$
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Marion Crain and Michael Sherraden

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199988488

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199988488.001.0001

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Financial Fragility, Medical Problems, and the Bankruptcy System

Financial Fragility, Medical Problems, and the Bankruptcy System

(p.53) 3 Financial Fragility, Medical Problems, and the Bankruptcy System
Working and Living in the Shadow of Economic Fragility

Melissa B. Jacoby

Mirya R. Holman

Oxford University Press

A significant body of research documents the volatility of household income and assets over the life cycle. The US bankruptcy system is among the policy interventions designed for such disruptions, and several million people pass through this system every year. Measures of homeownership, occupational prestige, and education indicate that they generally are middle class but have very low incomes when they file. This chapter examines the literature on medical problems among bankruptcy filings. It then explores the credit and debt management choices made by financially strapped households before they take the ultimate step of filing for bankruptcy. It focuses particularly on the management of medical bills not covered by insurance. The authors use data from the 2007 Consumer Bankruptcy Project, a nationally representative data set based on court records, written questionnaires, and telephone surveys.

Keywords:   bankruptcy, Consumer Bankruptcy Project, credit, debt, foreclosure, health insurance, homeownership, medical bills, mortgages, net worth

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