Have lifelong unsecured debt related to poor physical health

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Figure 1 illustrates the trajectories of unsecured debt in 2013 recorded dollars for ages 28 to 40. The Constant High group was the largest, comprising 35% of respondents, followed by Constant Low / No Debt (18%), Low to Stable Medium (17%), Debt Cycle (14%), Medium to Low ( 12%%), Low to high late (4%). Credit: DOI: 10.1016 / j.ssmph.2021.100846

Most people would probably agree that having “bad” or unsecured debt, such as credit card debt and payday loans, can be stressful and anxious.

Today, a University of Missouri researcher found that the stress of taking on unsecured debt in adulthood is also linked to physical health issues, including pain that interferes with daily activities.

Adrienne Frech, medical sociologist and associate professor at the MU School of Health Professions, analyzed data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics to examine the financial health of nearly 8,000 “baby boomers” between the ages of 28 and 40 as well as their physical health. at 50 years old.

“The most common trend we found was that people who carried their debt with them over time had poorer physical health later in life,” said Frech. “Those with consistently high debt were 76% more likely to have pain that interfered with their daily lives compared to those without unsecured debt, and what surprised us most was that even people who paid off their debt over time were still 50 years old. % more likely to have painful interference than those without unsecured debt. “

Frech explained that people who take on unsecured debt often do so under circumstances of stress or desperation, such as following a medical emergency or having consistently low income even as the cost of living continues to rise. increase with inflation.

“If people don’t have enough money to meet their basic needs, like food and shelter, they tend to take on credit card debt or a payday loan,” Frech said. “The solution is not simply to tell people to spend their money better or to avoid medical emergencies, we must first address the systematic inequalities that create these desperate circumstances.”

The link between unsecured debt and poor health can quickly turn into a downward spiral. Stagnant wages can lead people to take on unsecured debt, and the stress caused by debt negatively impacts physical health, which can limit people’s ability to work and pay off high-interest debt, and the cycle continues, Frech said.

“Debt and chronic pain can build up over time, so this cycle is difficult to reverse once it starts,” Frech said. “Ideally, we could prevent individuals from taking on unsecured debt in the first place, and that starts with increasing wages so people can meet their basic needs. “

“Trajectories of Unsecured Debt and Midlife Health” was recently published in Population health. Co-authors include Jason Houle of Dartmouth College and Dmitry Tumin of East Carolina University.


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More information:
Adrianne Frech et al, Trajectories of Unsecured Debt and Midlife Health, SSM – Population health (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.ssmph.2021.100846

Provided by the University of Missouri

Quote: Study: Carrying Unsecured Debt Throughout Life Linked to Poor Physical Health (2021, September 13) Retrieved September 29, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-09-unsecured-debt -life-tied-poorer.html

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