Household financial debt in America has risen dramatically in recent years. While
there is evidence that debt is associated with adverse psychological health, its relationship
with other health outcomes is relatively unknown. We investigate the associations
of multiple indices of financial debt with psychological and general health outcomes
among 8400 young adult respondents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent
Health (Add Health). Our findings show that reporting high financial debt relative
to available assets is associated with higher perceived stress and depression, worse
self-reported general health, and higher diastolic blood pressure. These associations
remain significant when controlling for prior socioeconomic status, psychological
and physical health, and other demographic factors. The results suggest that debt
is an important socioeconomic determinant of health that should be explored further
in social epidemiology research.
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