What Are the Implications of Rising Debt for Older Americans?

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Debt among older Americans has been on the rise over the last several decades. Not only are older Americas more likely to hold debt, but the levels of debt have also increased. However, rising debt does not always signal financial fragility since debt can be used for a variety of purposes. A low-interest mortgage for buying a house is typically an investment in a growing asset, while accumulating credit card debt for essential expenses can hinder financial security. These important distinctions and their implications have been largely unexplored. The proposed analysis will determine to what extent the rising debt for older households is concerning and define the characteristics of households vulnerable to expense shocks.