Credit scores, cardiovascular disease risk, and human capital.

Abstract

Credit scores are the most widely used instruments to assess whether or not a person is a financial risk. Credit scoring has been so successful that it has expanded beyond lending and into our everyday lives, even to inform how insurers evaluate our health. The pervasive application of credit scoring has outpaced knowledge about why credit scores are such useful indicators of individual behavior. Here we test if the same factors that lead to poor credit scores also lead to poor health. Following the Dunedin (New Zealand) Longitudinal Study cohort of 1,037 study members, we examined the association between credit scores and cardiovascular disease risk and the underlying factors that account for this association. We find that credit scores are negatively correlated with cardiovascular disease risk. Variation in household income was not sufficient to account for this association. Rather, individual differences in human capital factors—educational attainment, cognitive ability, and self-control—predicted both credit scores and cardiovascular disease risk and accounted for ∼45% of the correlation between credit scores and cardiovascular disease risk. Tracing human capital factors back to their childhood antecedents revealed that the characteristic attitudes, behaviors, and competencies children develop in their first decade of life account for a significant portion (∼22%) of the link between credit scores and cardiovascular disease risk at midlife. We discuss the implications of these findings for policy debates about data privacy, financial literacy, and early childhood interventions.

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Citation

Published Version (Please cite this version)

10.1073/pnas.1409794111

Publication Info

Israel, Salomon, Avshalom Caspi, Daniel W Belsky, HonaLee Harrington, Sean Hogan, Renate Houts, Sandhya Ramrakha, Seth Sanders, et al. (2014). Credit scores, cardiovascular disease risk, and human capital. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 111(48). pp. 17087–17092. 10.1073/pnas.1409794111 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/9270.

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Scholars@Duke

Caspi

Avshalom Caspi

Edward M. Arnett Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Caspi’s research is concerned with three questions: (1) How do childhood experiences shape aging and the course of health inequalities across the life span?  (2) How do genetic differences between people shape the way they respond to their environments? (3) How do mental health problems unfold across and shape the life course? 

Belsky

Daniel W Belsky

Assistant Professor in Population Health Sciences

The goal of Dan’s work is to reduce social inequalities in aging outcomes in the US and elsewhere. Dan's research seeks to understand how genes and environments combine to shape health across the life course. His work uses tools from genome science and longitudinal data from population-based cohort studies. The aim is to identify targets for policy and clinical interventions to promote positive development in early life and extend healthspan.

Areas of interest: Aging, health disparities, epidemiology, life course, genetics, genomics, gene-environment interaction, health measurement

After finishing his Ph.D. at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health in 2012, Dan came to Duke for a postdoc at the Center for The Study of Aging and Human Development. Dan joined the faculty at Duke in 2014. He is Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics at the Duke University School of Medicine and Social Science Research Institute. Dan is a Senior Fellow at the Aging Center and a Research Scholar at the Duke Population Research Institute.

Areas of expertise: Epidemiology and Health Measurement

Houts

Renate Houts

Statistician III

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