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Study: Younger generation more likely to use credit cards

Jan 19, 2013 Walt Wojciechowski

Debt collectors have been increasingly busy in recent months, with recent consumer credit reports finding that Americans are starting to spend more. That includes credit card spending, which, after a brief down period, has risen again the last two years.

However, a recent study conducted at Ohio State University indicated that debt collection agencies may want to focus their attention toward younger Americans, who tend to take on more credit card debt and take longer to pay it off.

"Credit is more readily available now, and there have been changes in interest rates and less stigma attached to having credit card debt, which may all make younger people today more willing to go into debt," Lucia Dunn, economics professor at Ohio State, recently told

According to the study, people born from 1980 to 1984, on average, accumulate nearly $5,700 more in credit card debt than their parents' generation-people born between 1950 and 1954. Meanwhile, when compared to their grandparents' generation (people born from 1920 to 1924), younger credit card users typically amass $8,000 more in debt.

In addition, Dunn said that by using information about how Americans pay off their credit cards, the report predicted that members of the younger generation will be slower than their parents and grandparents at paying off debt. In fact, many younger credit card users will continue to accumulate debt even after they've turned 70, so debt collectors should remain busy for quite some time.

According to a study by Card Hub, American credit card debt grew $36.3 billion year over year from 2011 to 2012, including $40 billion in the last three months of 2012 alone. A separate report by the Federal Reserve revealed that total credit card debt exceeded $858 billion at the end of November.