Survey Shows 3.5 Million Americans Would Go to Jail vs. Pay Off Their Debt

Consumer debt can be debilitating for people who struggle to pay it off. As of June 2018, the total U.S. consumer debt was $3.87 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve.

When the interest rates on credit cards and loans are too much to handle some borrowers fail to make any progress toward reducing their debt balances.

It’s a dangerous spiral that keeps them in debt -- to the point that some Americans said they would go as far as to forfeit their basic freedoms in hopes of an escape.

MyBankTracker Freedom vs. Debt Infographic

MyBankTracker conducted a survey that polled Americans to see which freedoms they’d be willing to give up in order to get out of debt.

It turns out…

Some people would opt to go to actual prison instead of being confined to the financial prison of overwhelming debt.

Here are the percentages of respondents who were willing to forfeit the following freedoms:

  • Read only fake news - 5.2 percent (estimated 13.1 million Americans)
  • Forced to switch political parties - 4.2 percent (estimated 10.5 million Americans)
  • Right to data privacy (i.e.web browser history) - 4.1 percent (estimated 10.3 million Americans)
  • Religious freedom - 3.7 percent (estimated 9.3 million Americans)
  • Freedom of speech - 2.4 percent (estimated 6 million Americans)
  • Your freedom - go to jail - 1.4 percent (estimated 3.5 million Americans)


Key Findings

  • Men are twice as likely (than women) to give up freedom of speech
  • Men are nearly four times as likely (than women) to go to jail
  • Gen X (35 to 54 years old) are more likely to read only “fake news” or switch political parties than millennials (18 to 34 years old)

Data

Gender

Question Males Females
Read only fake news 5.1% 5.3%
Right to privacy (i.e.web browser history) 4.5% 3.7%
Forced to switch political parties 4.5% 4.0%
Religious freedom 3.8% 3.5%
Freedom of speech 3.3% 1.5%
Your freedom - go to jail 2.2% 0.6%

Males overall

  • Read only fake news: 5.1%
  • Right to privacy (i.e.web browser history): 4.5%
  • Forced to switch political parties: 4.5%
  • Religious freedom: 3.8%
  • Freedom of speech: 3.3%
  • Your freedom - go to jail: 2.2%

Females overall

  • Read only fake news: 5.3%
  • Forced to switch political parties: 4.0%
  • Right to privacy (i.e.web browser history): 3.7%
  • Religious freedom: 3.5%
  • Freedom of speech: 1.5%
  • Your freedom - go to jail: 0.6%

Age Group

Question Millennials: 18- to 34-year olds Gen Xers: 35- to 54-years old
Read only fake news 4.30% 6.00%
Right to privacy (i.e.web browser history) 5.90% 4.60%
Forced to switch political parties 3.70% 5.20%
Religious freedom 4.10% 4.50%
Freedom of speech 2.30% 3.30%
Your freedom - go to jail 1.70% 1.30%

Millennials: 18- to 34-year olds

  • Right to privacy (i.e.web browser history): 5.9%
  • Read only fake news: 4.3%
  • Religious freedom: 4.1%
  • Forced to switch political parties: 3.7%
  • Freedom of speech: 2.3%
  • Your freedom - go to jail: 1.7%

Gen Xers: 35- to 54-years old

  • Read only fake news: 6.0%
  • Forced to switch political parties: 5.2%
  • Right to privacy (i.e.web browser history): 4.6%
  • Religious freedom: 4.5%
  • Freedom of speech: 3.3%
  • Your freedom - go to jail: 1.3%

U.S. Region

Question Midwest Northeast South West
Read only fake news 7.10% 6.00% 5.20% 2.90%
Right to privacy (i.e.web browser history) 3.20% 4.00% 5.20% 3.20%
Forced to switch political parties 5.40% 5.40% 3.40% 3.50%
Religious freedom 3.40% 9.30% 1.50% 2.90%
Freedom of speech 2.30% 3.70% 2.50% 1.20%
Your freedom - go to jail 1.00% 1.60% 1.60% 1.10%


Methodology

MyBankTracker conducted a Google survey during the week of August 12, 2018 with 2,000 U.S. respondents who were at least 18 years old. The estimates for the U.S. population of age 18 and above are based on U.S. Census Bureau data that was last updated July 1, 2017.

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