Why Women File Insolvency

Our insolvency study shows that women are much more likely be to a member of a financially vulnerable risk group making it difficult to keep up with her financial obligations without relying on debt.  Female debtors are more likely to be divorced, three times as likely to be single parents, twice as likely to carry student debt and five times more likely to be widowed.

While her debts are lower, Jane Debtor is using a larger portion of her income to keep up with living expenses and has less left over for debt repayment causing her to turn to more debt, including payday loans, to make ends meet.

Women Facing Higher Financial Risk

In our 2017 study, 47% of all insolvent debtors were female, up from 46% in 2015 and 43% in 2013. However, it is Jane Debtor’s relative financial position in comparison to the average male debtor that sets her apart. Her risk factors increase the probability that she will file insolvency.

Jane/Joe DebtorFemaleMale
% of all debtors47%53%
Unsecured debt$43,921$60,400
Debtor income$2,261$2,481
Household income$2,743$3,082
Unsecured debt-to-income162%203%
% employed75%80%
% divorced30%24%
% with dependant(s)45%34%
% lone-parents27%8%
% with student debt20%11%

Jane Debtor has a much lower level of unsecured debt than her male cohorts. She owes on average $43,921, substantially less than the $60,400 average of unsecured debt for male debtors.

Jane Debtor’s take-home pay is 9% below male debtors, while her household income is 11% lower. Her debt-to-income ratio is also lower at 162%, versus 203% for male debtors.

While her debts are lower, Jane Debtor is much more likely to be a member of a financially vulnerable risk group, making it difficult for her to meet her daily financial obligations without relying on debt.

Jane Debtor is more likely to be divorced or separated (30% as compared to 24% for male debtors). She is much more likely to have dependants (45% versus 34% for males) and an astounding 27% of female debtors are lone-parents (compared to only 8% for male debtors).

One in five (20%) female debtors carry a student loan, while only one in ten (11%) male debtors have student debt.

Jane Debtor is less likely to be employed (75% are employed versus 80% for male debtors) and she is more likely to be on maternity or child leave, retired or on disability.

Female debtors are also five times more likely to be widowed than males.

Despite having a substantially lower debt-to-income ratio, Jane Debtor is using a larger portion of her pay to keep up with personal living costs for herself and her family. She has much less left over than male debtors do for debt repayment.


Personal Information:FemaleMale
Average age4344
Marital status
Married or Common-law31%43%
Divorced or Separated30%24%
Average family size2.12.1
Likelihood of having dependant45%34%
% lone-parent27%8%
Average monthly income$2,261$2,481
Total unsecured debt$43,921$60,400
Unsecured debt-to-income ratio162%203%
Likelihood they own a home15%18%
Average mortgage value$185,096$196,160
Detailed Information on the amount of average unsecured debt:
Personal Loans$16,311$21,175
Credit Cards$14,851$17,353
Student Loans$2,876$1,429