The effect of metropolitan-area mortgage delinquency on health behaviors, access to health services, and self-rated health in the United States, 2003-2010


The recent housing crisis offers the opportunity to understand the effects of unique indicators of macroeconomic conditions on health. We linked data on the proportion of mortgage borrowers per US metropolitan-area who were at least 90 days delinquent on their payments with individual-level outcomes from a representative sample of 1,021,341 adults surveyed through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) between 2003 and 2010. We estimated the effects of metropolitan-area mortgage delinquency on individual health behaviors, medical coverage, and health status, as well as whether effects varied by race/ethnicity. Results showed that increases in the metropolitan-area delinquency rate resulted in decreases in heavy alcohol consumption and increases in exercise and health insurance coverage. However, the delinquency rate was also associated with increases in smoking and obesity in some population groups, suggesting the housing crisis may have induced stress-related behavioral change. Overall, the effects of metropolitan-area mortgage delinquency on population health were relatively modest.

Soc Sci Med
Sam Harper
Sam Harper
Associate Professor of Epidemiology

My research interests include impact evaluation, reproducible research, and social epidemiology.