“If what we found continues to hold true, we may have more elderly people with substantial financial problems in the future,” Dunn said. “Our projections are that the typical credit-card holder among younger Americans who keeps a balance will die still in debt to credit-card companies.”

The study found that consumers born between 1980 and 1984 have credit-card debt substantially higher than the debt held by the previous two generations. Specifically, they have on average $5,689 more debt than people, like their parents, born 1950 and 1954 at the same stage of life and $8,156 more debt than those born between 1920 and 1924, like their grandparents…

In addition to incurring more debt, younger people are paying off their debt more slowly, too. The study estimates that the children’s payoff rate is 24 percentage points lower than their parents’ and about 77 percentage points lower than their grandparents’ rate.

Researchers believe the study is significant because it is the first to use data on not only how much people borrow on their credit card, but their complete payoff information as well.