Why are women getting into debt?

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Credit analysts claim that female personal bankruptcies are now growing at 25% a year. But why is this happening?

One likely answer is the increased cost of living, combined with the fact that men's salaries still generally outstrip women's in the world of work. Also, many women who have children will take time out of their careers to raise their families and often return to the workforce on a lower income than they might have reached if they had stayed in work.

According to the Office for National Statistics, at the end of the tax year in 2010, the median gross annual earnings for full-time men were £28,100 and for full-time women were £22,500.

When women generally earn less than men, they may feel the need to borrow to maintain the same standard of living they see enjoyed by other people.

Another factor in female insolvencies could be the actual cost of raising a family - especially for single mums.

'Traditionally', mums pick up the bulk of the childcare responsibilities. If women choose to stay at home to raise their children, they won't be earning a salary - and if they do return to work, there is the cost of professional childcare to consider.

Then there are 'social pressures' to consider, with many films and magazines encouraging women to fund lifestyles beyond them - by borrowing, if 'necessary'.

In all, it's a range of factors. Aside from the rising cost of living and lower average salaries, the higher public awareness of insolvency options, such as IVAs (Individual Voluntary Arrangements), are all likely to have made a significant contribution to the rising numbers of female insolvencies.