ProPublica has created a research-ready national data set of consumer bankruptcy cases filed from 2008 through 2015 either under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. The dataset, which was the underpinning for our analysis in "How The Bankruptcy System is Failing Black Americans," includes data on the approximately 9 million consumer bankruptcy cases in the United States. In addition to basic filing information such as important dates and locations, each case includes the debtor’s zip code, as well as income, asset, and liability information.
The file was created by combining and cleaning data from the Department of Justice and the American Community Survey.
This Department of Justice data is provided as snapshots. ProPublica cleaned and aggregated records to create a single record for each case. Demographic information for the filer's zip code was added to each case including racial composition, median household income, and education level. In some cases, demographic variables included in the file were calculated by combining measures from the ACS data. (For example, percent black is calculated as the estimated size of the black population divided by the total estimated population.)
Note: The Justice Department’s dataset does not include identifying information about the debtor, such as name and address. Also, this data does not list the debtor’s attorney. Furthermore, a significant number of cases lack asset, liability or income data, most likely because such information was never filed in the first place. This is particularly prevalent among pro se cases.
Download the raw source data on bankruptcy case filings here.