Survey reveals generational gap in Canadians’ understanding of the causes of debt


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TORONTO, March 03, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – As COVID-19 continues to worsen the financial difficulties of many Canadians, a new national survey by Licensed Insolvency Trustees Bromwich + Smith examines how the country views the debt and the factors that cause it. the Monitoring the causes of debt, reveals a generational gap in the perception of the causes of debt, wants versus needs, job losses and rising cost of living, addiction, mental health and gambling.

When asked what people think are the main causes of debt, the highest response (at 52% of Canadians) was “a difficulty in distinguishing wants from needs” (essential purchases vs instant gratification like impulse purchases).

Other main responses include a lack of financial literacy (42%), an increase in the cost of living (41%), unexpected financial emergencies such as a car accident, divorce, major health problem, a lawsuit or a natural disaster (40%), and job loss (36%).

To complete the list:

  • Social acceptance – expenses to integrate at 27%
  • Marketing and media at 15%
  • 10% drug addiction
  • Mental health issues at 8%
  • Finally, the game at 7%

“These results are very revealing of how people perceive the causes of debt in Canada,” said Shawn Stack, vice president of insolvency practice at Bromwich and Smith. “Often people assume that debt is caused by mismanagement of money. However, what we are seeing with our clients is that many find themselves in this situation due to factors beyond their control. Unexpected life events like serious illness, death in the family, divorce or job loss are usually the reasons people get into trouble.

Generational chasmWhen discussing the causes of debt, beliefs differ among different age groups. Specifically, while the older cohort (55+) strongly believes that wants versus need is the main cause of debt (58%), only 44% of younger respondents (18-34) agree. For the younger cohort, lack of financial literacy and budget planning skills is the main cause of debt at 50 percent. This contrasts with 34 percent for the 35-54 cohort and 43 percent for those 55 and over.

“There is a stigma associated with debt that makes people feel ashamed that they cannot pay it off,” Stack said. “In the K-shaped recovery, where different parts of the economy are recovering at different rates, the most vulnerable cohort is pushed further down. Young Canadians and women have felt a stronger impact amid the pandemic and tend to have a different understanding of the factors leading to debt as they experience it. ”

Women are much more likely than men to believe that rising cost of living (44% to 38%) and unforeseen financial emergencies (55% to 45%) are the main causes of debt.

“Everyone’s journey is different,” Stack said. “But to overcome debt, it takes an inner journey and a measure of self-forgiveness. Once this is done, it is important to know that every Canadian has the right to restructure their debt. Our Debt Relief Specialists at Bromwich + Smith are just a phone call away to help Canadians navigate this process and rebuild their value.

the Monitoring the causes of debt is the latest in a series of Bromwich + Smith designed to create a benchmark of attitudes regarding stigma, money and debt.

Canadians’ understanding of the causes of debt

Causes of debt national 18 – 34 35 – 54 55+
Wants vs needs – difficulty distinguishing between essential purchases and instant gratification / ‘impulse buying’ 52% 44% 50% 58%
Lack of financial literacy / budget planning skills 42% 50% 34% 43%
The cost of living is increasing 41% 46% 44% 34%
Unforeseen financial emergencies (car accident, divorce, major health problem, lawsuit, natural disaster) 40% 43% 41% 38%
Job Loss 36% 37% 34% 36%
Social acceptance – spending beyond your means to integrate 27% 26% 30% 26%
Marketing and media – advertisements for credit cards, goods, services and lifestyles 15% 12% 13% 18%
Substance dependence 9% 9% 9% 7%
Mental health problems 8% ten% 9% 7%
Gambling 7% 6% 8% 8%

Bromwich + Smith understands the many reasons Canadians get into debt and will continue to support those seeking effective debt relief solutions.

The full survey results are available through the contacts below.

About Monitoring the causes of debt by Bromwich + Smith From December 18 to 20, 2020, an online survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,520 Canadian Angus Reid Forum members. The sample was balanced and weighted for age, gender, region and education. For comparison purposes, the sampling plan would have a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About Bromwich + Smith Bromwich + Smith, our dedicated team of Licensed Insolvency Trustees and Debt Relief Specialists are committed to rebuilding the value of our clients, while helping to relieve the overwhelming financial and emotional burden they endure. Beyond the financial well-being of our clients, Bromwich + Smith strives to restore the personal well-being and self-confidence of each client. Whether it is through a consumer proposal, bankruptcy, advice or a budget, our clients trust us to work with them to find personalized solutions to restore them. With offices in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, Bromwich + Smith helps thousands of Canadians rebuild their value every year. Bromwich + Smith Debt Relief Specialists are available for an initial consultation by phone at 1-855-884-9243 or via

For more information: To arrange an interview with Shawn Stack, Vice President of Bromwich + Smith, please contact:

Dana sharman MAVERICK Public Relations [email protected] 1-705-878-6493

Natasha B. RussellSenior Communications Specialist Bromwich + Smith [email protected] 1-587-329-6947

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Monitoring the causes of debt

Vice President of Insolvency Practice Shawn Stack and Co-Founder President David Smith have a safe hallway conversation at Bromwich + Smith Headquarters. The company just released the Debt Cause Tracker, a survey that examines people’s perceptions of the origins of debt.

Source: Bromwich + Smith

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