Monday, 19 December 2016

Household debt in midlife and old age: A multinational study

an article Noah Lewin-Epstein and Moshe Semyonov (Tel Aviv University, Israel) published in International Journal of Comparative Sociology Volume 57 Issue 3 (2016)


This article examines the prevalence of household debt in middle and old age, in the context of rising consumption, the weakening welfare safety net, and the ‘democratisation’ of credit. We aim to address theoretical propositions concerning household correlates of mortgage and financial debt, as well as the relationship between the two types of debt.

We utilise data gathered on populations, aged 50 years and older, in 15 countries that participated in the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) project. We find considerable levels of mortgage and financial debt in advanced stages of life, as well as significant differences within and between countries.

Controlling for country variation as well as individual and household attributes, we find a positive relationship between the size of mortgage debt and financial debt across most countries. We test alternative explanations for this relationship and discuss the implications of our findings in the broader context of the risks faced by older cohorts in consumer societies with shrinking welfare expenditure.

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