Debt and distress: evaluating the psychological cost of credit

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2005


In this paper we explore the association between debt and psychological well-being amongst heads of households using the British Household Panel Survey. Our principle finding is that those household heads who have outstanding (non-mortgage) credit, and who have higher amounts of such debt, are significantly less likely to report complete psychological well-being. The average increase in the psychological distress is greater when outstanding credit is measured at the individual, as opposed to household, level. No such significant association is found in the case of mortgage debt. Our results highlight the psychological cost associated with the consumer credit culture in Britain.

Published in

Journal of Economic Psychology


Volume: 26 (5):642-663




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