Neil Harrold picThe stark differences between the factors that cause men and women to enter bankruptcy have been revealed by a new report from insolvency trade body R3.
 
Using statistics obtained from the Insolvency Service, R3 reveals that, while ‘over-spending’ is a common cause of bankruptcy among both men and women, there are significant differences between the sexes in terms of the respective other most common causes of bankruptcy.
 
According to the most recent available data, which covers 2014, the top three causes of bankruptcy among men were the loss of the bankrupt’s employment, a loss of market by their business, and ‘living beyond their means’.
 
But for women, the breakdown of a relationship is the primary cause, followed by living beyond their means, and a significant reduction in household income.
 
Neil Harrold, North East chair of insolvency trade body R3 and a partner with Hay & Kilner Solicitors, says: “Insolvency statistics are a window onto the wider economy, and the bankruptcy figures show that traditional differences between men’s and women’s roles in the economy persist.
 
“Although men are more likely than women to enter bankruptcy, certain groups of women are acutely affected, and in one way, these statistics make for depressing reading.”
 
The data show that the single most common ‘type’ of bankruptcy in 2014 was a woman’s bankruptcy caused by a relationship breakdown.
 
During that year, there were 20,336 bankruptcies, of which 12,119 involved a man and 8,131 involved a woman (the rest are unknown). Approximately 1,420 of these involved a woman whose relationship had broken down.
 
The most common cause of bankruptcy among men was the loss of their own job, which caused approximately 1,275 bankruptcies (and 640 among women).
 
Neil Harrold continues: “Bankruptcy is the least common type of formal insolvency. It is generally associated with people with higher levels of debts or assets and can be an appropriate tool for dealing with a drastic situation such as a large or sudden drop in income caused by job loss or business failure.
 
“Men are still more likely to be the main earner in a household or to own a business, and the bankruptcy statistics reflect this.”
 
“Women are far more likely than men to enter a Debt Relief Order (DRO), which is designed for those with very low incomes, debts or assets. In part, thanks to the introduction of DROs in 2009, overall, women are now more likely to enter an insolvency procedure than men.”
 
Overall, there were 98,338 total insolvencies in 2014, of which 46,758 involved a man and 51,473 involved a woman.
 
Neil Harrold adds: “The stereotypical idea that women struggle more than men with casual over-spending is misleading. Looking at bankruptcies alone, men and women both struggle with keeping a lid on their outgoings. Overall, if women are now more prone to insolvency, it’s more likely to be linked to the fact that they have lower levels of assets or incomes to live on than male counterparts. It’s much easier to ‘over-spend’ in this situation.”
 
Every bankruptcy case is assigned a cause by the Insolvency Service from a list of 17 factors.
 
Men’s bankruptcies are more likely to be caused by a wider number of factors than women’s: the top three causes of men’s bankruptcies accounted for only a third of all male bankruptcies, while the top three causes of women’s bankruptcies accounted for over half the total.
 
With the exceptions such as ‘living beyond means’, the causes of bankruptcy that have a relatively bigger impact on men tend to have a relatively lower impact on women, and vice versa:
 
·         Business failure-related bankruptcies accounted for roughly one-in-three men’s bankruptcies in 2014, but only one-in-seven women’s bankruptcies
·         The top cause of bankruptcy for men – the loss of employment – was only the 6th most common cause of bankruptcy for women
·         Relationship breakdown was the number one cause of women’s bankruptcies in 2014 but it was only the 8th most common cause of bankruptcies among men.
·         The top three causes of women’s bankruptcies (relationship breakdown, living beyond means, and reduction in household income) were the only factors that affected more women than men.
 
Cause
Male Bankruptcy
Female Bankruptcy
Total Bankruptcy
Male Rank
Female Rank
Living beyond means
1210
1330
2540
3
2
Relationship breakdown
830
1420
2250
8
1
Significant reduction of bankrupt’s income so unable to meet existing commitments
1100
825
1925
5
4
Loss of bankrupt’s employment
1275
640
1915
1
6
Loss/significant reduction of household income
665
1145
1810
9
3
Other
1130
655
1785
4
5
Loss of Market (trading-related)
1240
445
1685
2
8
Illness/accident
885
565
1450
7
7
Management Failure (trading-related)
955
200
1155
6
9
Other (trading-related)
470
110
580
10
11
Failure of new venture, expansion or acquisition (trading-related)
380
175
555
11
10
Financial (trading-related)
290
75
365
12
12
Gambling and other rash speculation
150
20
170
13
15
Knock on effect from failure of another company (trading-related)
125
35
160
15
14
Bad debts (trading-related)
135
10
145
14
16
Increase in interest rates on existing debts (secured/unsecured)
75
55
130
16
13
Victim of Fraud (trading-related)
10
0
10
17
17
 
NB. Numbers have been rounded by the Insolvency Service to protect confidentiality. Cases with unknown causes are not included.