Health, subjective financial situation and well-being: a longitudinal observational study

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 26, 2020



An individual’s financial situation is a key contributor to their overall well-being. Existing research has examined the direct economic consequences of changes in health upon out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure, participation in the labour force and potential earnings. There is also research exploring an individual’s concern about their subjective financial situation regardless of the level of their income or work status on their health. In contrast, this paper conducts a causal analysis of the effects of general and mental health on an individual’s subjective evaluation of their financial situation controlling for their work status and income. This is of importance because current health policy in the United Kingdom (UK) stresses the role of health as an asset which can mediate the wider flourishing of individuals. Moreover, subjective financial situation comprises a key component of well-being now being measured and sought in social welfare policy.

Fixed effects instrumental variable panel data regression analysis is applied to 25 years of longitudinal data, from 1991, drawn from the harmonised British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and Understanding Society Survey (USS).

Improved general health and reduced mental illness both improve the subjective financial situation of males and females. However, these affects diminish across older cohorts of males and females.

Investing in and improving general and mental health can improve the subjective financial situation and hence well-being of individuals. The targeting of health also needs to take account of an individuals’ life-stage.

Published in

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes


Volume: 18:203






Open Access

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest