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The impact of savings and credit on health and health behaviours: an outcome-wide longitudinal approach

Piotr Bialowolski, Dorota Węziak-Białowolska and Tyler J. VanderWeele
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Dorota Węziak-Białowolska: Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Tyler J. VanderWeele: Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

International Journal of Public Health, 2019, vol. 64, issue 4, No 11, 573-584

Abstract: Abstract Objectives This study evaluated decisions related to debt and savings on physical health, emotional health and health behaviours. Methods The longitudinal data from the Polish biennial household panel—Social Diagnosis Survey—were used. Evidence for a link between credit/savings and health/health behaviours was presented using three waves of the data and an outcome-wide regression analysis. To circumvent endogeneity, variables temporally prior to exposure were used as controls. Sensitivity analysis for unmeasured confounding, conducted using E-values, provided a check for robustness. Results Debt proved a significant stressor, affecting three of five physical health measures. Over-indebted individuals suffered even more in terms of physical health outcomes. The role of savings in physical health was much less significant, yet had significant bearing on measures of emotional health. In terms of emotional health, debt (over-indebtedness in particular) influenced loneliness and increased suicidal thoughts. With respect to health behaviours, savings appeared significant in reducing smoking and increasing uptake of sport activities, while debt had no significant effect in these areas. Conclusions Recommendations are formulated to foster saving activity and develop institutional solutions for over-indebtedness.

Keywords: Credit; Savings; Health behaviour; Health; Longitudinal study; Outcome-wide regression (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s00038-019-01214-3

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