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Broke, Ill, and Obese: Is There an Effect of Household Debt on Health?

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  • Matthias Keese
  • Hendrik Schmitz

Abstract

type="main"> We analyze the association between household indebtedness and different health outcomes using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel from 1999 to 2009. We control for unobserved heterogeneity by applying fixed-effects methods and furthermore use a subsample of constantly employed individuals plus lagged debt variables to reduce problems of reverse causality. We apply different measures of household indebtedness, such as the percentage shares of household income spent on consumer credit and home loan repayments (which indicate the severity of household indebtedness) and a binary variable of relative overindebtedness (which indicates a precarious debt situation). We find all debt measures to be strongly correlated with health satisfaction, mental health, and obesity. This relationship vanishes for obesity after controlling for unobserved heterogeneity while it stays significant with respect to worse physical and mental health.

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  • Matthias Keese & Hendrik Schmitz, 2014. "Broke, Ill, and Obese: Is There an Effect of Household Debt on Health?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(3), pages 525-541, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:60:y:2014:i:3:p:525-541
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    10. Conchita D’Ambrosio & Markus Jäntti & Anthony Lepinteur, 2020. "Money and Happiness: Income, Wealth and Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 148(1), pages 47-66, February.
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    12. Brown, Sarah & Gray, Daniel, 2016. "Household finances and well-being in Australia: An empirical analysis of comparison effects," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 17-36.
    13. Yunchao Cai & Selamah Abdullah Yusof & Ruzita Bt Mohd Amin & Mohd Nahar Mohd Arshad, 2021. "The Multi-dimensional Effect of Household Debt on Urban Individual Well-Being in Klang Valley Malaysia," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 158(1), pages 23-44, November.
    14. Hojman, Daniel A. & Miranda, Álvaro & Ruiz-Tagle, Jaime, 2016. "Debt trajectories and mental health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 54-62.
    15. Karen Pickering & Mark Monahan & Alessandra Guariglia & Tracy E Roberts, 2017. "Time to tighten the belts? Exploring the relationship between savings and obesity," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 12(6), pages 1-23, June.
    16. Sarah Kuypers & Gerlinde Verbist, 2022. "Over-indebtedness and poverty : Patterns across household types and policy effects," Working Paper Research 420, National Bank of Belgium.
    17. Hiilamo, Aapo, 2020. "Debt matters? Mental wellbeing of older adults with household debt in England," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 106507, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    18. Guariglia, Alessandra & Monahan, Mark & Pickering, Karen & Roberts, Tracy, 2021. "Financial health and obesity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 276(C).
    19. Leigh Ann Leung & Catherine Lau, 2017. "Effect of mortgage indebtedness on health of U.S. homeowners," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 239-264, March.
    20. Blázquez, Maite & Budría, Santiago & Moro-Egido, Ana I., 2020. "Over-indebtedness and age: The effects on individual health," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    21. Grzegorz Wałęga & Agnieszka Wałęga, 2021. "Over-indebted Households in Poland: Classification Tree Analysis," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 153(2), pages 561-584, January.
    22. Apergis, Nicholas & Hayat, Tasawar & Kadasah, Nasser A., 2019. "Subjective well-being in housing purchasing: Evidence with survey data from the U.K. housing residential market," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 328-335.
    23. Stefan Angel, 2016. "The Effect of Over-Indebtedness on Health: Comparative Analyses for Europe," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(2), pages 208-227, May.
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