Finding yourself suddenly financially ruined at the age of 50 or more would increase the risk of dying by 50% over the next 20 years, says a study released Tuesday.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), this study is the first of its kind in the long term. It examines the health impact of losing 75% or more of a one’s property over a two-year period.
Nearly a quarter of Americans aged 51 and over lived this scenario, according to the study.
The loss of lifelong savings may have peaked during the 2007-2010 crisis, but Americans have experienced such situations at a relatively steady pace over the last 20 years, “regardless of the general economic climate” , reveals the study.
“We found that losing the savings of a lifetime had a profound impact on a person’s health over the long term,” said lead author Lindsay Pool of Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.
The researchers also studied a group of people of the same age but low-income and who were never rich, discovering that their risk of dying in the next 20 years was 67% higher than that of people whose financial means had experienced steady growth during their lifetime.
“The most surprising discovery was that having money and losing it is almost as bad for your life expectancy as never having it,” said Ms. Pool.
This higher risk could be explained by the difficulty in paying for medical care and the health impact of anxiety due to high financial losses.
The study is based on information provided by more than 8,700 people who participated in a national long-term survey conducted by the National Institute on Aging. Participants were aged between 51 and 61 at the time of registration.
In 2016, a study published in the British journal The Lancet had indicated that rising unemployment and cuts in the health sector, following the 2008 financial crisis, would have contributed to an excess cancer mortality of more than half a million people in the world.