“More and more, the current generation will have to deal with debt close, and into, retirement,” said Annamaria Lusardi, the Denit Trust Chair of Economics and Accountancy at the George Washington University School of Business, and a co-author of the study.
In addition, she said, “the value they carry close to retirement has increased a lot.”
People who were between the ages of 56 and 61 in 2010 carried a median debt balance of $32,700, up from $6,760 in 1992. (All values are expressed in 2015 dollars).
“This debt can contribute to some financial fragility,” Lusardi said.
For one, she said people might be forced to work longer. Older families carrying debt will also be more exposed to changes in interest rates, which are expected to rise.
Having to divert a greater share of one’s resources toward mortgages and credit card bills can also be especially difficult (potentially impossible) for those on a fixed-income.
And more than 40 percent of single adults receive almost all of their money from their monthly Social Security check, according to the government.