The recession is disproportionately hitting older people as well as the young, with the number of pensioners going bankrupt almost tripling in the last five years.
Some 2,595 people aged over 65 were declared bankrupt in 2008, compared to 983 in 2004, according to the Insolvency Service.
The bankruptcy rate for pensioners increased by twice as much as in other age groups.
Pensioners spend much more of their income on food and energy bills, which have been soaring in recent years.
More people are entering retirement with credit card debts that they then struggle to pay off.