Consumer debt delinquency by family lifecycle categories

Jing Jian Xiao (Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, USA)
Rui Yao (University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA)

International Journal of Bank Marketing

ISSN: 0265-2323

Publication date: 28 January 2014



The purpose of this paper is to document debt delinquency patterns by family lifecycle categories using multiple data sets that are nationally representative of American families.


Based on previous research, 15 lifecycle categories appropriate for American families are defined by household head's age, marital status, presence of children, and age of children. Data used are from Surveys of Consumer Finances (SCF) in the USA in 1992-2010. Multiple logistic regressions are conducted to identify probabilities of debt delinquencies of families in various lifecycle categories by controlling for income, financial assets, holdings of several types of debt, and several other demographic and socioeconomic variables.


The results show that among the 15 household lifecycle categories, the top three most likely to be delinquent are young couples with children aged seven or older, middle-aged singles with children aged 15 or older, and middle-aged singles with children under 15. Younger households are more financially distressed than their older counterparts. Presence of children increases the probability of debt delinquency.

Research limitations/implications

In this study, multiple national data sets representing American families are used to document debt delinquency patterns by family lifecycle categories. Results shed light on this important topic and offer helpful information for both banking industry practitioners and consumer financial educators.

Practical implications

The information produced by this study can help bank managers better identify their potential clients and understand their current customers. Different marketing strategies based on the research findings can be developed to attract and retain customers with different delinquency risks.


This is the first study to examine debt delinquencies by family lifecycle categories with multiple SCF data sets in the USA. The 15 family lifecycle categories used are based on recent research that is specially designed for American families. The research findings provide straightforward implications for both bank managers and consumer educators.



Jian Xiao, J. and Yao, R. (2014), "Consumer debt delinquency by family lifecycle categories", International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 43-59.

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