Household debt in midlife and old age: A multinational study

Noah Lewin-Epstein*, Moshe Semyonov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This article examines the prevalence of household debt in middle and old age, in the context of rising consumption, the weakening welfare safety net, and the ‘democratization’ of credit. We aim to address theoretical propositions concerning household correlates of mortgage and financial debt, as well as the relationship between the two types of debt. We utilize data gathered on populations, aged 50 years and older, in 15 countries that participated in the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) project. We find considerable levels of mortgage and financial debt in advanced stages of life, as well as significant differences within and between countries. Controlling for country variation as well as individual and household attributes, we find a positive relationship between the size of mortgage debt and financial debt across most countries. We test alternative explanations for this relationship and discuss the implications of our findings in the broader context of the risks faced by older cohorts in consumer societies with shrinking welfare expenditure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-172
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016


FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme676536


    • Cross-national
    • SHARE
    • household debt
    • inequality
    • mortgage debt


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