Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Debt matters? Mental wellbeing of older adults with household debt in England

Hiilamo, Aapo (2020) Debt matters? Mental wellbeing of older adults with household debt in England. SSM - Population Health, 12. ISSN 2352-8273

[img] Text (Hiilamo_debt-matters-mental-wellbeing-of-older-adults--published) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (4MB)

Identification Number: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2020.100658


Background A record number of older individuals have household debt, but little is known about possible links between debts and their mental wellbeing. This study examines the extent to which different aspects of household indebtedness predict mental wellbeing among this population. Methods A sample of 17,091 individuals (72,700 observations) aged 50 and over in England was derived from waves 1 - 8 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Mental wellbeing was assessed by two outcome measures: number of depressive symptoms (CES-D 8) and quality of life (CASP-19 score). The predictors of mental wellbeing were examined using quartiles of non-zero overall debt amount, debt-to-income and debt-to-non-housing wealth ratios as alternative measures of debt burden. Linear regression models estimated the associations of mortgage and non-mortgage debt measures with mental wellbeing while adjusting for observable socioeconomic confounding factors. Individual fixed effect models were used to control for all time-constant factors among a longitudinal subsample. Results Individuals in the highest debt-to-wealth quartile were particularly at risk of lower mental wellbeing, that is, a higher number of depressive symptoms and lower quality of life. After covariate adjustment, non-mortgage debt predicted lower mental wellbeing on both measures but mortgage debt was only linked to lower quality of life. Among the subsample who experienced changes in high non-mortgage debt levels, a small association of these changes with mental wellbeing outcomes were observed. Asymmetric within-individual estimation showed that both getting rid of and acquiring new debts during the study period predicted symmetrically (small) increases and decreases, respectively, in mental wellbeing. Conclusion These findings indicate that among older individuals in England, non-mortgage debt status is linked to poor mental wellbeing. High, non-mortgage, debt-to-wealth ratios may help identify risk of mental wellbeing issues in older people with debts.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2020 12:48
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:54

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics