NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Is the Foreclosure Crisis Making Us Sick?

September 6, 2011

Janet Currie of Princeton University and Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University investigate the relationship between foreclosure activity and the health of residents using zip code level longitudinal data.  They focus on Arizona, California, Florida and New Jersey, four states that have been among the hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, and combine foreclosure data for 2005 to 2009 from RealtyTrac with data on emergency room visits and hospital discharges. 

  • Currie and Tekin find that an increase in the number of foreclosures is associated with increases in medical visits for mental health (anxiety and suicide attempts), for preventable conditions (such as hypertension), and for a broad array of physical complaints that are plausibly stress-related.
  • They are not related to visits for cancer morbidity, which arguably should not respond as rapidly to stress.
  • Foreclosures also have a zero or negative effect on elective procedures, as one might expect.
  • Age specific results suggest that the foreclosure crisis is having its most harmful effects on individuals 20 to 49 years old.
  • Currie and Tekin also find larger effects for African Americans and Hispanics than for whites, consistent with the perception that minorities have been particularly hard hit.

Source: Janet Currie and Erdal Tekin, "Is the Foreclosure Crisis Making Us Sick?" National Bureau of Economic Research, August 2011.

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