The Impact of debt and financial stress on health in Northern Irish households

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Abstract

We analyse data collected from a survey of Northern Irish low-income households experiencing varying degrees of financial hardship and examine how debt affects health and health-related behaviours. Our results indicate that the subjective experience of feeling financially stressed has a robust relationship with most aspects of health including ability to self-care, problems performing usual activities, pain problems and psychological health. In contrast, neither the size of the debt, the type of debt nor the number of different lenders add any extra explanatory power. Additionally, our results indicate that the pathway from financial difficulties to worse health runs through worse diets and increased consumption of cigarettes and drugs. This research is timely as household
debt burdens will soon surpass the high levels seen at the time of the financial crisis and the introduction of welfare reform in Northern Ireland will put additional strain on low-income households.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458–473
Number of pages15
JournalJournal Of European Social Policy
Early online date17 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2017

Keywords

  • Debt, financial stress , health.

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