Currently 676,428 German citizens are awaiting a debt-free future. This is the result of current analysis by the credit agency CRIFBÜRGEL, which has evaluated private bankruptcies in this context over the last six years. The persons affected are currently in the so-called "probationary" period in the context of consumer bankruptcy proceedings and are awaiting discharge from residual debt and thus the elimination of their debts.
Most private bankruptcies in absolute terms are currently located in North Rhine-Westphalia (168,049), Lower Saxony (86,068) and Bavaria (74,191). Per head of population, more of Bremen's residents are in the debtors’ queue (134 per 10,000 inhabitants). However in Lower Saxony and Saarland (109 each), as well as in Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg (106 each), many private individuals are awaiting discharge from residual debt. Baden-Württemberg (57) and Bavaria (58) have the least private individuals currently undergoing bankruptcy.
Compared to the previous year (692,612), the number of persons subject to the probationary period has declined by 2.6 percent.
At present, 393,579 men are waiting for debt discharge in the context of private bankruptcy proceedings, compared with 282,849 women. This imbalance is also reflected in the relative view. For every 10,000 male inhabitants, there are 107 currently in the probationary period; for women this is 70 per 10,000. Almost 70,000 of the affected private individuals are between 18 and 30 years old and therefore have to undergo bankruptcy proceedings at an early stage in their lives. Causes of over-indebtedness, especially among young citizens, are inefficient budget management, coupled with little experience in dealing with money. Moreover, the income and consumption patterns of those affected are often incompatible. Therefore, large amounts are often invested in mobile devices, electrical appliances, cars and credit card purchases. This marks a lack of a reasonable use of available income and financial reserves.
In absolute terms, the majority of individuals in the probationary period are in the 41 to 50 age group (189,239). The situation is different in relative terms - for 31 to 40-year-olds, there are 166 cases per 10,000 inhabitants, making this the top group statistically. To put it another way: 1.66 per cent of private individuals aged between 31 and 40 years are currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. Things look better for older citizens. In this age group only 39 in every 10,000 inhabitants are undergoing bankruptcy proceedings.
Persons affected must meet certain obligations during the probationary period in order to be able to be discharged from existing debts. This usually occurs through surrender of income earned above a certain limit. As a rule, the probationary period lasts six years. This means that for bankruptcy proceedings commenced in 2011, discharge from residual debts cannot be granted until 2017 at the earliest. In 2014, two possible reductions were introduced by the insolvency law reform. A reduction to 5 years is granted to those affected who are at least able to pay the costs of the proceedings. Persons who also pay 35 per cent of creditor claims within 36 months can obtain discharge from residual debt after three years. However, not all citizens benefit from discharge from residual debt as this may be refused in certain circumstances. This is the case, for example, if the debtor breaches their duty to provide information and to co-operate during the proceedings, or is convicted under insolvency law.
The number of private bankruptcies is set to fall for the seventh time consecutively in 2017. The main reason for the further decline in private bankruptcies is the continuing low unemployment rate in Germany. At present, the credit agency CRIFBÜRGEL is dealing with up to 95,000 private bankruptcies for the current year.