A good or bad credit history can be a leading indicator of a person’s physical health, according to analysis.
A long-term study of the physical and mental health of more than 1,000 New Zealanders who have been monitored continuously from birth to age 38 found a link between money and health.
A paper from the study, appearing in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), has found a strong relationship between low credit scores and poor cardiovascular health.
This and other studies from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study in New Zealand have found that self-control, planning ahead and perseverance are attributes which predict both better financial status and better health.
“What it comes down to is that people who don’t take care of their money don’t take care of their health,” said Terrie Moffitt, the Nannerl O. Keohane university professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke.
This confirms what the insurance and financial industries may already understand.
The researchers found that about 20% of the relationship between credit scores and heart health was accounted for by the attitudes, behaviours and competencies displayed by the study members when they were younger than age 10.
“We’re showing that these things take root early in life,” Israel said.
The study provides hope that early life intervention can impede the development of life-long patterns of illness and financial struggle.
In recent years, credit scores have been used for pre-employment screening and many other functions beyond their original intent, Israel said.
This study seems to bear out their usefulness as a proxy for a person’s reliability and steadfastness and in turn how healthy they may be.
“Our findings suggest that life insurance companies that acquire an applicant’s credit score are also indirectly acquiring information about that applicant’s educational attainment, intelligence and personality, right back to childhood,” the authors write.
The link might work the other way as well. In less developed countries where credit scores aren’t available, a Harvard team has been experimenting with using a 40-minute personality quiz to assess candidates’ credit-worthiness for microloans.
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