Debt Barometer 2010

In 2010 the number of private insolvencies reached a new climax. With 138,110 cases in Germany (plus 6.4 percent, i.e. 8,412 more cases compared with 2009) the bankruptcy statistics even exceeded the previous record year 2007. Particularly younger citizens are affected. It is true that the statistical total owed by young adults lies below the federal average, but on the other hand the number of creditors is higher than with the average bankrupt. These are the results of the current Debt Barometer 2010 compiled by the Hamburg financial information agency Bürgel. According to this, in comparison with 2009, the 18- to 25-year-olds have experienced the highest increase in insolvency cases of all age-groups, i.e. 27 percent. The average debt amount in 2010 was just below 33,000 EUR for federal citizens in private insolvency. But the outlook for 2011 continues to be subdued: “We can expect case figures on the same high level as in 2010,” was the résumé by Bürgel Managing Director, Dr. Norbert Sellin.

Regarded in absolute figures, the most densely populated federal state, North Rhine-Westphalia, is the worst affected with 30,228 cases of private insolvency. In relation to the number of population, however, a differentiated picture is conveyed with a distinct north-south decline. Here, Bremen leads the insolvency ranking with 307 cases per 100,000 head of population, followed by Lower Saxony (230), Schleswig-Holstein (225) and the Saarland (212). On the other hand, the lowest values are recorded in the southern federal states: Bavaria with 125 private insolvencies per 100,000 head of population, Baden-Wuerttemberg (136) and Thuringia (137).

Private Insolvencies in Germany

Even in the percentage changes compared with 2009, great differences are apparent. Only 3 of the 16 federal states report a decline: Brandenburg with 4.4 percent less cases, followed by Sachsen-Anhalt (minus 1.2 percent) and the Saarland (minus 0.9 percent). On the other hand, there is a double figure rise to be coped with in Thuringia (22.2 percent), North Rhine-Westphalia (plus 12.3 percent) and Berlin (plus 11.2 percent).

Percentaged Changes in Private Insolvencies

The strongest percentage decreases on an urban and district level were recorded in Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen (minus 34.6 percent), Ansbach (minus 33.3 percent) and in the Nuremberg rural district (minus 32.8 percent).

The strongest rise is reported by the district of Sömmerda in Thuringia with 43.4 percent more private insolvencies, followed by Bottrop (plus 43.2 percent) and the Kyffhäuser District (plus 39 percent).

32.1 percent of the insolvency cases in 2010 are allocated to the 46- to 60-year-olds. In the case of the 36- to 45-year-olds, the share amounts to 30.9 percent. Taking a look at the “Best Aged” from 60 upwards, the figures are considerably lower, with 6.9 percent; com- pared with 2009 their bankruptcy tendency has even decreased by 10 percent. The young adults aged from 18 to 25 years show an insolvency share of 6.4 percent of the overall statistics which is the lowest value of all. Besides the double-figure increase in the number of cases in this segment compared with 2009 (plus 27 percent), the rate reported for the 26- to 35-year-olds has also risen by 10.7 percent.

Men are to blame for 58. percent of all private insolvencies – a trend that is apparent throughout almost all age groups. The gender imbalance is particularly noticeable among the over-60-year-olds with a male proportion of 61.5 percent. The only exception is provided by the 18- to 25 year-olds. Here, the female share is higher (53.9 percent). The strongest risk group among these young adults is the category single mothers. Where families are affected by indebtedness, it tends, on the contrary, to be the men who most frequently help seek from advice bureaus.

The main causes of private insolvency are unemployment, permanently low income, failed self-employment, separation and divorce. In addition, statistics prove that a lack of experience in dealing with finances and banks, inappropriate consumer behaviour and decreasing income often lead the way into the debt trap.


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