“Second lifers” are shouldering an even greater debt burden

23rd June 2014

The trend for second marriages and having children later in life is continuing to impact the debt people are carrying as they get older. A survey of more than 10,600 over 50s by Saga found that ‘second lifers’ – people over 50 who have children with a new partner, have a bigger mortgage and more debts to face than those in the same age group without a new family.

The survey shows that 16% of over 50s say they still have a mortgage. This figure rises to 26% for people who are going through a second marriage or long-term relationship. This group are also more likely to have outstanding debt on loans and, presumably, will be faced with the added burden of things like university fees for their children and grandchildren.

According to the research, more and more people are having children later in life. On average, of over 50s asked, 22% had their last child between 29 and 31 years old. Whereas almost one in 10 had their last child at the age of 41 or older. Recent ONS data suggests that the number of mothers aged 40 and over has more than quadrupled over the last three decades from 6,519 in 1982 to 29,994 in 2012.

The Saga survey shows that over 50s, on average, have a mortgage debt of £62,836, much less than second lifers who have an average £73,881 mortgage to contend with. Not only that, second lifers have greater loan or ‘non-mortgage’ debts too. While 12% of over 50s have outstanding loan debts, the figure rises to 16% for second lifers, who have on average amassed £13,652 to pay off, compared to £10,830 for the rest of the over 50s.

Andrew Strong, chief executive, Saga Personal Finance says: “The later-life parenting trend suggests that debt may remain a problem for many people as they get older.  The endowment mortgage crisis and age discrimination in mortgage lending is impacting on some over 50s at a time when they may not be able to generate additional income to cover the cost of a mortgage or other debts. A tax-free lump sum provided by equity release could help relieve some of the pressure.”


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