ECONOMY

Housewives and the young fuel rise in consumer credit

It is often said that women are more consumer-minded than men. Such a perception, irrespective of age, marital status, income or educational level, is confirmed by a recent survey by market research firm VPRC for Popular Money magazine (March 2004). The survey was conducted in a sample of 395 people, approximately half of whom had taken out at least one consumer loan. But Greek women borrowers, even though numerically fewer than men (a 48:52 ratio), take out more consumer loans, according to the survey. Women are found to be more frequent visitors to banks than men, often returning home with more than one consumer loan. An interesting feature emerging from the survey is women borrowers’ employment situation; most women borrowers’ replies to the relevant question in the survey was «housewife.» The survey, which also shows that consumer loans, representing 50 percent of the total, are particularly preferred by the young; 67 percent of those aged 18-24 and 63 percent of those in the 25-34 age group have taken out at least one consumer loan. The percentage falls to 56 percent among those aged 35-44, to 43 percent in the 45-54 age bracket, 41 percent in the 55-64 group and to 39 percent among those over 65. Marital status also seems to differentiate borrowing behavior. Single men and women living alone, who numbered 17 in the sample, appear to be far more willing consumer borrowers; 72 percent of them were in receipt of such loans, in contrast to married people (numbering 332 in the sample), only 48 percent of whom had taken them out. The respective rates for single people living with parents is 59 percent, for widows and widowers 66 percent and for divorced or separated people 56 percent. A large majority of young people with at least one consumer loan declared they were students. The 25-34 age group (irrespective of occupation and whether they have their parents’ support) is a distinct category of clients in the banking market, and their borrowing behavior is not exhausted in consumer purchases; 20 percent of them were found to have taken out mortgage loans, while the average for all age groups was 32 percent. The rate was 34 percent for those aged 35-44, 35 percent in the 45-54 group, 41 percent among those aged 55-64 and 36 percent among those aged over 65.