The per­ils of a wealth shock

The Week (US) - - News 21 -

Suf­fer­ing a ma­jor fi­nan­cial loss could lead to an early death, a new study sug­gests. Re­searchers at North­west­ern Univer­sity an­a­lyzed the fi­nan­cial his­tory and health records of nearly 9,000 Amer­i­cans be­tween ages 51 and 61, from 1994 to 2014. Dur­ing that pe­riod, about 25 per­cent of the sub­jects ex­pe­ri­enced a neg­a­tive “wealth shock,” mea­sured as a min­i­mum 75 per­cent drop in their net worth over a two-year pe­riod. The me­dian net-worth de­crease was just over $100,000. The re­searchers found that the peo­ple who lost their nest egg were 50 per­cent more likely to die than their peers dur­ing the study pe­riod, and had the same risk of pre­ma­ture death as those who were poor or in debt. “This is some­thing mil­lions of peo­ple go through,” lead re­searcher Lind­say Pool tells “It’s not re­ally a rare event.” Pool and her team say a sud­den re­ver­sal of for­tune can lead to de­pres­sion, high blood pres­sure, anx­i­ety, and other health is­sues. Peo­ple in fi­nan­cial tur­moil may also have trou­ble af­ford­ing their pre­scrip­tions and med­i­cal care.

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