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Am J Public Health. 2011 Dec;101(12):2293-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300245. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

Mortgage delinquency and changes in access to health resources and depressive symptoms in a nationally representative cohort of Americans older than 50 years.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA.



We evaluated associations between mortgage delinquency and changes in health and health-relevant resources over 2 years, with data from the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal survey representative of US adults older than 50 years.


In 2008, participants reported whether they had fallen behind on mortgage payments since 2006 (n = 2474). We used logistic regression to compare changes in health (incidence of elevated depressive symptoms, major declines in self-rated health) and access to health-relevant resources (food, prescription medications) between participants who fell behind on their mortgage payments and those who did not.


Compared with nondelinquent participants, the mortgage-delinquent group had worse health status and less access to health-relevant resources at baseline. They were also significantly more likely to develop incident depressive symptoms (odds ratio [OR] = 8.60; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.38, 21.85), food insecurity (OR = 7.53; 95% CI = 3.01, 18.84), and cost-related medication nonadherence (OR = 8.66; 95% CI = 3.72, 20.16) during follow-up.


Mortgage delinquency was associated with significant elevations in the incidence of mental health impairments and health-relevant material disadvantage. Widespread mortgage default may have important public health implications.

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