Saved by wealth? Income, wealth, and self-perceived health in Spain during the financial crisis

Authors: Guillem López-Casasnovas and Maria Sáez

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Vol. 17, No 19, 1-20, October, 2020

We evaluate the association between the variations in income and wealth, (both aggregate and split between real estate and financial wealth), and self-perceived health in Spain using a longitudinal sample of individuals before and after the financial crisis. We estimated generalized linear mixed models, with a binomial response and a logistic link, for four waves of the Spanish Survey of Household Finances (two before and two after the crisis), adjusting for variables at the family and individual levels. We also controlled for familial and individual heterogeneity and for temporal trends. While an increase in wealth greatly increases the probability of younger individuals reporting better health, this is not the case for older individuals. Decreases in gross wealth are associated with decreases in the probability of declaring good/very good health only in families whose reference person is over 44 years old. We conclude that: (i) not just income but net wealth effects impact on the consequences of income fluctuations on consumption and health assessed, (ii) the composition of individuals’ net wealth may also matter, since they are differently affected by the shocks in the economic crisis, (iii) age plays a significant role and, finally, (iv) individual reactions in terms of consumption and savings, given any level of income and wealth, according to the risk aversions for precautionary idiosyncratic motives, may also need to be considered in order to complete the picture