Bankruptcies Expected to Increase in 2009

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As the economic downturn continues, some experts suggest 2009 might see the highest number of personal bankruptcies in history.

An Ohio University researcher says bankruptcies have followed specific patterns for years. Sociologist Deborah Thorne says the three leading causes of bankruptcy are job or income loss, a chronic medical condition and divorce or separation. She says, while credit card debt plays a role as a family’s financial situation declines, it is rarely the cause.

Deborah Thorne is an associate professor of sociology at Ohio University. She is co-principal investigator on the ongoing Consumer Bankruptcy Project based at Harvard.

Thorne says her studies show one year after filing bankruptcy, one-third of individuals describe their financial condition as the same or worse than when they filed.