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Are 85% of women’s insolvencies caused by consumer debt alone? Not quite...

We’ve spotted that some of our research on gender and insolvency is referred to in the papers this morning. The article says that according to R3 research, “in 85 per cent of [the insolvencies of women aged 25-34], the sole cause of their difficulty was consumer debt.” Not exactly.

The research being referred to is our survey from last year in which we asked our members to identify, given their experience, the typical leading causes of insolvencies for men and women. Members could select more than one factor.

According to the survey, the leading causes of insolvencies among women tend to be:

1. Accumulation of consumer debt (selected as a main reason by 85% of R3 members)
2. Job loss or reduction in income (50%)
3. Loss of chief household income earner’s income (46%)

So, while consumer spending problems are a common cause of women’s insolvencies, they are not the sole cause of 85% of cases: they are one of several common causes. Importantly, consumer spending problems are also one of the main causes of men’s insolvencies, too. According to the survey, the leading causes of insolvencies among men are:

1. Own company failure (selected as a reason by 83% of R3 members)
2. Accumulation of consumer debt (75%)
3. Job loss or reduction of income (57%)

Talking about gender and insolvency can be tricky. There is not much evidence available to explain the different reasons why men and women enter insolvency (and there are big differences), so it’s all too easy to rely on anecdotal evidence or stereotype alone. However, from the evidence we do have, we know that the reasons for the differences are complex and don’t quite match assumptions.

We’ll shortly be publishing an in-depth report on gender and insolvency to try and shed more light on the differences between men’s and women’s insolvencies, so keep your eyes out for that.

Notes to editors:

  • R3 is the trade body for Insolvency Professionals and represents the UK’s Insolvency Practitioners.

  • R3 comments on a wide variety of personal and corporate insolvency issues. Contact the press office, or see for further information.

  • R3 promotes best practice for professionals working with financially troubled individuals and businesses; all R3 members are regulated by recognised professional bodies
  • R3 stands for 'Rescue, Recovery, and Renewal' and is also known as the Association of Business Recovery Professionals.