The debtor-creditor relationship has always been intertwined with notions of morality. Failing to pay one’s financial obligations has traditionally been met with social opprobrium, internal shame, and external stigma. This dynamic did not change with the advent of American bankruptcy law. Indeed, for much of the twentieth-century, scholars have studied and debated whether the stigma associated with filing for bankruptcy has declined over the years, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s when the number of consumer bankruptcy filings increased dramatically. Existing studies suggest that the stigma regarding personal bankruptcy has declined in the latter portion of the twentieth-century.
Using a data set previously untapped by bankruptcy and social science scholars, this study explores the trend of bankruptcy stigma for approximately four decades, from the advent of the Bankruptcy Code in 1978 to the present day.… Read More