Consumer debt grew rapidly in the years leading up to the Great Recession, and contracted sharply in its immediate aftermath. This credit cycle played out unevenly among households with different financial means and in different parts of the country. While much attention has been paid to mortgages, other debt categories, such as automobile and student, play an important role in household finances. Consequently, we analyze trends in both mortgage and non-mortgage debt across income groups during the period surrounding the Great Recession.
In an article in 2015, we explored household debt patterns in places of different income levels and across different types of consumer credit. In particular, we divided US zip codes into population weighted income quintiles based on the average income reported on tax returns from addresses in each zip code in 2001. In addition to mortgages, we explored debt patterns for revolving home equity loans, auto debt, and student loans. For the 2015 article, we focused on the period since the Great Recession.