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Harder for older US workers to pay off mortgage

Sharp fall in home prices, high consumer debt, unexpected expenses add to their woes

New York

LIKE Archie Bunker, who celebrated paying off his home mortgage by burning his documents in a 1975 episode of All in the Family, many workers once routinely timed retirement to coincide with paying off a mortgage. But now older workers in the United States, stung by a punishing decline in house prices or high consumer debt, are increasingly unable to pay off their mortgages and are heading into their retirement years with substantial amounts outstanding.

They have also been hit by unexpected expenses, layoffs, accumulated credit card bills or college loans, leaving them unable to pay off their single biggest debt unless they work longer, downsize or rely on other borrowing for the monthly...

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