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Ever Ask Families If They Carry Debt, and What Kind of Debt? New Study May Prompt You to Do So :

February 17, 2016

Many if not all families carry some kind of debt—be it as a home mortgage, a student or car loan, or in many cases an unsecured credit card debt. So how does carrying debt affect a child’s overall wellbeing?

Many if not all families carry some kind of debt—be it as a home mortgage, a student or car loan, or in many cases an unsecured credit card debt. So how does carrying debt affect a child’s overall wellbeing? Drs. Berger and Houle wanted to explore this issue and have done so in a thought-provoking article being released this month. (10.1542/peds.2015-3059)

The authors used population-based longitudinal fiscal and social wellbeing data on more than 9000 children and their mothers collected annually for over 20 years, controlling for many possible confounders.  The results show that while you might expect overall debt in a family is not a good thing for a child’s socioemotional wellbeing, this statement is not necessarily true for specific kinds of debt.  

For example having higher levels of educational and home mortgage debt actually enhanced a child’s socioemotional wellbeing whereas credit card and other unsecured debt did just the opposite.  Just why some debt can help children and some cannot, forms the basis for an interesting discussion section for this paper.  You owe it to yourself to read this study and learn more.

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