Health shocks and mortgage debt payoff among American homeowners over age 50: A survival analysis

Qun Zhang, Hyungsoo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mortgage debt is financially burdensome for many older homeowners in the United States. As people age, declining health can bring about increased healthcare costs. Focusing on homeowners aged 50 and older in the U.S., we investigate two research questions: (1) To what extent does a heath shock affect the likelihood of paying off a mortgage voluntarily or involuntarily? and (2) how long does a health shock delay the time it takes to pay off a mortgage? We used eight biannual waves (2004–2018) of the Health and Retirement Study containing 11,772 borrowers to build survival regression models. Results showed that a health shock reduced the likelihood of voluntary payoff by 12%, while it increased the probability of involuntary payoff by 18%. A health shock delayed voluntary and involuntary payoffs for 30 and 21 months, respectively. We discuss tax deduction and HELOCs as strategies to reduce older homeowners' mortgage strain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-386
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Consumer Affairs
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Council on Consumer Interests.


  • health shocks
  • housing security
  • middle-aged and older adults
  • mortgage debt
  • survival analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Health shocks and mortgage debt payoff among American homeowners over age 50: A survival analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this