More Americans Expect to Be in Debt Until Death

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A growing number of Americans see their debt as insurmountable.

A survey of about 1,000 U.S. adults found that 21 percent of people carrying debt said they expect they will never be rid of it. That figure is up from 18 percent last year and 9 percent in 2013.

The average American, however, believed he or she would be debt-free by age 54, the survey reported.

The survey also found that more people said they were debt-free this year — 22 percent, up from 14 percent last year.

Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst for, tells CBS MoneyWatch:

“The wealthier you are, the less likely you are to say you have no debt. You might have a mortgage or a car loan, but you’re feeling good about your ability to handle it and get out of it eventually.

“Poorer folks may not be as likely to be in debt, but they are more likely to feel trapped by what debt they have.”

In addition to wealth, demographic factors like age and race affect people’s outlook on debt, the survey found. For example:

  • People ages 18-29 (11 percent) were less likely to doubt they would pay off their debts than older people, such as people ages 50-65 (24 percent) and people 65 and up (35 percent).
  • Hispanics (28 percent) and whites (26 percent) were more likely to say they were debt-free than people of other races.
  • Whites were more likely than average to say they would never escape their debts.
  • People without children (26 percent) were more likely to say they were debt-free than people with children (12 percent).

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At what age do you believe you’ll be free of debt? Or at what age did you do so? Let us know below or on Facebook.

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