Mortgage Delinquency, Health Status, and Unmet Needs: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

Dawn Alley, University of Maryland
Jennifer Lloyd, University of Maryland
Jose Pagan, University of North Texas
Craig Pollack, Johns Hopkins University
Michelle Shardell, University of Maryland
Carolyn Cannuscio, University of Pennsylvania

The recent rise in mortgage default and foreclosure may have important health implications. Foreclosure has been associated with poor health status cross-sectionally, but it is unknown whether foreclosure results in health declines. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative survey of persons over age 50, we examined the association between mortgage delinquency and two-year changes (2006-2008) in depressive symptoms, self-rated health, food insecurity, and unmet prescription needs (N=2260). Homeowners who fell behind on their mortgages had worse health even before mortgage delinquency, but they also experienced a significantly greater risk of developing elevated depressive symptoms and health-relevant material deficits relative to homeowners who were not mortgage delinquent. Mortgage status remained associated with these outcomes after controlling for demographic variables, health behaviors, and changes in income and employment.

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Presented in Session 32: Income, Neighborhoods, and Health