By: Mary Ann Pekara
May 27, 2011
African American women in Illinois' Cook County file for bankruptcy at a disproportionately high rate and are much more likely to choose Chapter 13 bankruptcy over Chapter 7 protection, according to a recent study from the Woodstock Institute.
The study found that in Cook County, 2.6 out of every 100 adult women filed for bankruptcy between 2006 and 2010, compared to 2 per every 100 men. Among African American women that number rose to 5.1 per 100 adults. Households headed by African American women comprised 16.7 percent of all Cook County bankruptcy petitions during that four-year period.
"The high concentrations of bankruptcy filings in African-American communities, particularly among women-headed households, is an indicator of the overwhelming debt burdens and precarious economic situations facing these communities," said Geoff Smith, the senior vice president of the Woodstock Institute, in a statement.
In addition, almost half of all personal bankruptcy filings in Cook County's African American neighborhoods were Chapter 13 cases, which Smith said may be less advantageous for that demographic and ultimately keep them in debt.
According to the United States Courts website, Chapter 13 bankruptcy usually incurs higher fees and requires the petitioner to pay back a portion of their debt through three-to-five years repayment plans. On the other hand, Chapter 7 allows an individual to pay off debts by liquidating his or her assets aside from those exempted by the state.