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J Health Soc Behav. 2006 Mar;47(1):17-31.

Financial strain over the life course and health among older adults.

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Department of Sociology, Maryland Population Research Center, The University of Maryland, College Park 20742, USA.


This paper focuses on financial strain across the life course as a condition underlying health inequalities observed in later life. The analysis is based on data from 1167 adults 65 years and older collected as part of the 'Aging, Stress and Health Study". Relying on retrospective data about hardship experienced over the life course, we find that long-term financial hardship is reflected in a range of health outcomes at late life, even after controlling for the effects of current financial circumstances. Moreover, the sheer persistence of hardship matters more than its episodic occurrence or timing, so that the health effects of early hardship may be obviated if followed by no further hardship. This pattern offindings is consistent with the notion of allostatic load, the cumulative damage done to health and well-being under the burden of an unrelenting stressor in a critically important life domain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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