Research into middle-income families has University of Calgary sociologists looking at the debt load added by Calgarians during the last boom.

Anne Gauthier, Canada Research Chair in comparative family policy in the U of C’s sociology department, and grad student Jamie Budd are leading the research into the impact of the recent global recession on families earning between $50,000 and $90,000.

“Most of these people are not secured,” said Gauthier. “They currently have enough money to meet their basic needs, but if anything were to come up unexpectedly, they would be in serious trouble within weeks.”

Researchers are particularly struck by their findings in Calgary, arguably the epicentre of the previous economic boom due to its leadership role in the oilpatch.

“It looks as though the boom in Calgary possibly blinded people into taking on more debt than they should have, which is causing more problems,” says Budd. “It seems particularly acute after such an unprecedented boom — one would have thought that people would have been able to save more.”

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