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The impact of diminished housing wealth on health in the United States: Evidence from the Great Recession

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  • Yilmazer, Tansel
  • Babiarz, Patryk
  • Liu, Fen

Abstract

The sharp decline in home values in many industrialized and developing countries was one of the most evident facets of the global economic recession of 2008. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) for 2007–2011, this study examines how the decline in housing wealth affected the psychological and physical health and health-related behaviors of 4007 U.S. households who were homeowners in 2007. We focus on two mechanisms that could account for how the drop in housing wealth affects health: increase in stress and negative changes in health-related behaviors. Controlling for the changes in non-housing wealth and employment status during the recession, the decline in housing wealth is associated with a small but statistically significant increase in psychological distress. Psychological health deteriorates more as the housing wealth relative to total wealth decreases. Finally, homeowners who have difficulties with mortgage payments report substantial increases in psychological distress and have higher rates of depression. These findings, combined with limited evidence of the change in health-related behaviors, suggest that the increase in stress is the main cause of the adverse health outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Yilmazer, Tansel & Babiarz, Patryk & Liu, Fen, 2015. "The impact of diminished housing wealth on health in the United States: Evidence from the Great Recession," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 234-241.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:130:y:2015:i:c:p:234-241
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.02.028
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    10. Isabelle CHORT & Bénédicte APOUEY, 2018. "Are rising house prices really good for your brain? House value and cognitive functioning among older Europeans," Working Papers 2017-2018_7, CATT - UPPA - Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, revised Oct 2018.
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    14. Hawkley, Louise C. & Zheng, Boyan & Song, Xi, 2020. "Negative financial shock increases loneliness in older adults, 2006–2016: Reduced effect during the Great Recession (2008–2010)," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 255(C).
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    17. Garth Kendall & Ha Trong Nguyen & Rachel Ong, 2017. "The impact of differentiated access to income and wealth on health and wellbeing outcomes: a longitudinal Australian study," Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper series WP1701, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School.
    18. Schwandt, Hannes, 2014. "Wealth Shocks and Health Outcomes: Evidence from Stock Market Fluctuations," IZA Discussion Papers 8298, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Wilkinson, Lindsay R. & Schafer, Markus H. & Wilkinson, Renae, 2020. "How painful is a recession? An assessment of two future-oriented buffering mechanisms," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 255(C).
    20. Ong, Rachel & Nguyen, Toan & Kendall, Garth, 2018. "The impact of intergenerational financial transfers on health and wellbeing outcomes: A longitudinal study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 214(C), pages 179-186.
    21. Shamma Adeeb Alam & Bijetri Bose, 2022. "Stepping into adulthood during a recession: Did job losses during the Great Recession impact health of young adults?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(8), pages 1730-1751, August.
    22. Neil T Coffee & Tony Lockwood & Peter Rossini & Theo Niyonsenga & Stanley McGreal, 2020. "Composition and context drivers of residential property location value as a socioeconomic status measure," Environment and Planning B, , vol. 47(5), pages 790-807, June.
    23. De, Prabal K. & Segura-Escano, Raul, 2021. "Drinking during downturn: New evidence from the housing market fluctuations in the United States during the Great Recession," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 43(C).
    24. Preston Morgan & HanNa Lim, 2020. "Depressive Symptom and Financial Conflict Relate Over Time Among Couples," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 391-404, September.
    25. Isabelle CHORT & Bénédicte APOUEY, 2018. "Are rising house prices really good for your brain? House value and cognitive functioning among older Europeans," Working Papers 2017-2018_7, CATT - UPPA - Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, revised Oct 2018.

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