Debt Barometer 1st Quarter 2011

The number of private insolvencies in Germany fell slightly during the first quarter 2011 by 2 percent – to 34,022 cases in comparison with the same period of the previous year. “The values are stabilising at a high level,” is the resumée by Dr. Norbert Sellin, Managing Director of the Hamburg financial information agency Bürgel. However, according to the current Bürgel survey “Debt Barometer 1st Quarter 2011” one must regard the number of private insolvencies independently of the economic boom. With reference to the credit situation of the consumers, unemployment figures and a rising number of employees in low-wage sectors, Bürgel expect between 135,000 and 140,000 private insolvencies during the current year.

In the regional distribution the private insolvencies are concentrated in the first quarter 2011 in particular on North Rhine-Westphalia with 7,639 cases, Lower Saxony (4,420), Bavaria (3,751) and Baden-Wuerttemberg (3,443). In relative values, based on the population figures, there is predominantly a north-south incline: with 30 cases per 100,000 head of population Bavaria records the lowest number of private insolvencies during the survey period, followed by Baden-Wuerttemberg (32) and Thuringia (35). Whereas the federal average ranks at 42 private insolvencies per 100,000 head of population, Bremen brings up the rear with far more than double as many cases (87). Similar high values are registered in Hamburg with 58 insolvencies per 100,000 inhabitants, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein (each 56) and the Saarland (53).

Private Insolvencies in Germany

During the 1st quarter 2011 Hamburg had to cope with the strongest increase in private insolvencies (plus 12.6 percent) throughout the Federal Republic in comparison with the reference period of last year. However, the figures also increased in Thuringia (plus 8 percent), Bremen (plus 5.1 percent) and in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia (each plus 3.3 percent). On the other hand Hesse can claim the strongest decline for itself with 7 percent less cases, followed by Bavaria (minus 6.9 percent) and Baden- Wuerttemberg (minus 6.8 percent).

Percentaged Changes in Private Insolvencies

Increasingly badly hit by over-indebtedness are firstly the 18- to 25-year-olds, although they hold the lowest share of 6.5 percent of the age-related insolvency statistics. Admittedly, in the case figures of these young adults during the 1st quarter 2011 a decline by 1.7 percent can be observed in comparison with the same period of the previous year. But in comparison with the reference quarter of 2009, 66 percent more of these young citizens slipped into the debt trap.

Secondly, most recently private insolvencies are affecting more and more people from 60 years onwards. According to the Bürgel survey, the share of this age group in the insolvency statistics rose again for the first time for five years – by 6.4 percent in comparison with the first quarter 2010.

The largest share of the statistics according to age groups is held by the group of 46- to 60-year-olds with 32.1 percent. The 36- to 45-year-olds can claim a share of 30.1 percent. The rate among the 26- to 35-year-old ranks at 23.8 percent and among the over-sixties at 7.5 percent.

58.3 percent of all private insolvencies can be allocated to men. This trend is apparent through all age-groups. With the 36- to 45-year-olds the figure even reaches 61.6 percent. Only in the youngest segment of 18- to 25-year-olds do the women dominate – with a share of 55.1 percent and single-mothers make up the largest risk group. The “female” share in this age segment has risen in comparison with the first quarters of 2011 and 2010: Last year the rate was a lower 52.8 percent.

The main reasons behind private insolvencies are still unemployment, permanently low income, unsuccessful self-employment, separation and divorce. Besides these, the lack of experience in handling finances and banks, inappropriate consumer behaviour and a drop in income pay an essential contribution towards the fact that so many people are affected by over-indebtedness. It is especially the weak-income households that live off low wages or financial aid, have no savings potential during rising inflation.


CRIF Bürgel GmbH
– Branch Head Office –
Leopoldstraße 244
Fax:  +49 40 89803-777/778