Surveys show notable personal and geographic differences in the way consumers borrow and spend. These attitudes about personal debt may influence people’s judgments on other issues, such as the size of the national debt. Such judgments, in turn, can shape opinions on proposals for new government spending – such as the spending that would be needed for some of the healthcare reforms under consideration.
For these reasons, we thought it would be revealing to examine debt loads, using a set of recent polls. We pooled three surveys from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, taken in January 2006, September 2007, and February 2008. We then analyzed the data to see which of Patchwork Nation’s 12 community types contained the most debt-ridden and debt-free populations.