Growing Old Gracefully, An Investigation into the Growing Number of Bankrupt Canadians over age 55


Angela Redish, Janis Sarra, Margaret Schabas


University of British Columbia




For the past five years, the number of Canadians over age 55 who have declared bankruptcy has grown steadily. This is a troubling phenomenon, since presumably economic certainty and freedom would only be more likely in the later stages of life as habits of prudence are inculcated. Our inquiry seeks to explain the phenomenon, more specifically, to discern the causes for the rise of bankruptcy for the group of Canadians who have filed and are over age 55, both regionally and nationally. Our study has made a preliminary analysis of data collected by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) for bankrupts filing from 2003-2005, augmented by a qualitative survey of consumer bankrupts that declared bankruptcy during this period. This project examined the growth in bankruptcies for those over age 55 from a legal, economic, social and philosophical perspective, allowing for a multidisciplinary investigation with research collaborators from the Faculty of Law, Department of Economics and Department of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia to assess the potential and limitations of the fresh start paradigm for older consumer debtors.

If one public policy objective is truly to allow our citizens to "grow old gracefully" by having social and economic security, we need to identify the factors that serve as barriers to realization of that goal and make policy recommendations that would ensure our social and economic instruments are responsive to the underlying causes of consumer bankruptcy.

This document is available in the following language(s):

Third-Party Information Liability Disclaimer

Some of the information on this Web page has been provided by external sources. The Government of Canada is not responsible for the accuracy, reliability or currency of the information supplied by external sources. Users wishing to rely upon this information should consult directly with the source of the information. Content provided by external sources is not subject to official languages, privacy and accessibility requirements.

English and French

Contact information

The University of British Columbia 
2329 West Mall 
Vancouver, BC  V6T 1Z4
(604) 822-6375
(604) 822-3893

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

Date Modified: