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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2012 Sep;67(5):585-94. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbs056. Epub 2012 Aug 28.

Accumulated financial strain and women's health over three decades.

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  • 1Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware Street SE, MMC 729, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.



Drawing from cumulative inequality theory, this research examines how accumulated financial strain affects women's self-rated health in middle and later life.


Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women (1967-2003), we employ random-coefficient growth curve models to examine whether recurring financial strain influences women's health, above and beyond several measures of objective social status. Predicted probabilities of poor health were estimated by the frequency of financial strain.


Financial strain is associated with rapid declines in women's health during middle and later life, especially for those women who reported recurrent strain. Changes in household income and household wealth were also associated with women's health but did not eliminate the effects due to accumulated financial strain.


Accumulated financial strain has long-term effects on women's health during middle and later life. The findings demonstrate the importance of measuring life course exposure to stressors in studies of health trajectories.

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