Posted on Sep 13, 2013, 6 a.m.
Higher debt associates with worse health, among young Americans.
In that household financial debt in America has risen dramatically in recent years, the impact of financial debt on health has remained relatively underexplored. Elizabeth Sweet, from Northwestern University (Illinois, USA), and colleagues analyzed data collected on 8,400 young adults, ages 24 to 32 years, enrolled in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Finding that 20% of the subjects reported that they would still be in debt if they liquidated all of their assets (high debt-to-asset-ratio), the researchers determined that a higher debt-to-asset ratio was associated with higher perceived stress and depression, worse self-reported general health and higher diastolic blood pressure. Those with higher debt were found to have a clinically significant 1.3% increase (relative to the mean) in diastolic blood pressure. Further, the team found that individuals with high compared to low debt reported higher levels of perceived stress (representing an 11.7% increase relative to the mean) and higher depressive symptoms (a 13.2 percent increase relative to the mean). The study authors submit that: “The results suggest that debt is an important socioeconomic determinant of health that should be explored further.”
Elizabeth Sweet, Arijit Nandi, Emma K. Adam, Thomas W. McDade. “The high price of debt: Household financial debt and its impact on mental and physical health.” Social Science & Medicine, Volume 91, August 2013, Pages 94-100.