Racial disparities in overdue debt among older adults

Insights Report
Research Dialogue

An increasing share of older Americans carry debt into retirement, underscoring the need to support older adults in managing their debt effectively.


Rising debt levels among older Americans can cause significant challenges for their retirement security. While prior studies have highlighted this rise in debt, less attention has been given to older adults’ ability to manage and pay off debt. This report sheds light on the prevalence and amounts of delinquent debt, i.e., any debt that is past due and beyond the grace period.

Key Insights

  • About one in five consumers age 50 or older with a credit bureau record had delinquent debt in August 2022, suggesting difficulties meeting financial obligations. 
  • The prevalence of debt delinquency decreased with age, with about one in four adults ages 50 to 61 and one in six adults age 62 or older holding delinquent debt. 
  • Consumers living in local areas where a majority of residents identify as American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, Hispanic, or Asian American or Pacific Islander were more likely than consumers in majority-white areas to have delinquent debt and/or higher median amounts of delinquent debt.

By focusing on delinquent debt, the authors gain insights into older adults’ financial health and their ability to maintain their standard of living in retirement.


The authors’ primary data source consists of a sample of 4 million individual-level records gathered in August 2022 by a major credit bureau, supplemented with 2017–21 American Community Survey results from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Delinquincy rate by type of debt


Mingli Zhong

Urban Institute

Jennifer Andre

Urban Institute

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