The aim of this paper is to analyze overindebtedness as a result of a process in
which behavioral, social and socio-economic factors interact.
Furthermore, the growing importance of overindebtedness is linked to the challenges
of a society which has transformed to a “risk society”. The “new” risks – including
de-regulation, liberalization and globalization – require high everyday life coping
strategies which are obviously not given for a relevant share of the German population.
As a result, constantly around 3.3 million (8%) German households are overindebted.
The developments and underlying factors of this societal problem are analyzed
by biographical interviews with overindebted youth and by longitudinal statistical data
from different research sources and the Federal Statistical Office. The paper is based
on 25 years of overindebtedness research in Germany. The analytical approach considers
the whole life span of persons and discusses the age related main factors of overindebtedness.
There are different factors in childhood, adolescence, young adulthood until senior
age which influence capabilities, capacities and resources and lead (later) to overindebtedness.
It is argued that the increased use of behavioral data for credit-scoring systems
does not reduce overindebtedness.