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Finance and mental health for the over 50s: Possible ‘scarring’ effects of unemployment in later life

by on January 27, 2014

A study by the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre published today reports on the relationship between debt and mental health in older people. One of the main findings is that those who find it ‘very difficult to get by financially’ have almost eight times the odds of reporting reduced mental well-being compared to those who are living comfortably. The author of the research, David Hayes, Research Associate at the PFRC is quoted as saying: “This research supports the findings of other researchers that debt may be both a cause and consequence of mental health.

The study headlines have been reported in the media including The Independent and the Daily Mail.

One aspect of the research is particularly interesting in the context of the oft-reported ‘scarring effects’ of unemployment on young people. The analysis in this latest research includes the finding that older people who are unemployed have double the odds of reduced mental wellbeing, compared to those in full or part-time employment. Further evidence of the damage that unemployment can do at all ages.

The study also adds to our understanding of the financial position of those in their 50s in the UK, for example, in relation to work, debt and family relationships. For example, analysis from the PFRC published last Decemeber reported that one in four people aged 50 and over have outstanding non-mortgage borrowing, each owing an average of £4,500. As the Centre says, this all raises questions about people’s ability to provide adequately for their retirement, and the dilemmas that older people face who may be looking to help out their children and grandchildren financially.

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