CPB: debts often go hand in hand with mental problems

December 6, 2021 by No Comments

In recent years, a lot of research has been done on the mental health of people in debt. It is becoming increasingly clear that people with problematic debts are also more likely to have health problems than people who have their sheep on dry land. But does that connection really exist – and how do they influence each other?

A new study by the Central Planning Bureau (CPB) now confirms that this relationship does indeed exist. The study shows that as soon as someone gets into financial difficulties, the chance that he or she will use mental health care (GGZ) as well as the actual costs of that care increase.

This may concern, for example, mental problems, stress about whether there is enough money at the end of the month or because of collection letters on the mat.

It also applies the other way around: people who end up in debt more often had higher health care expenditures than people without debts. This concerns, for example, someone who was already in mental health care, and who as a result also incurs a lot of debt.

Defaulters Regulation

The researchers used microdata from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) for their study. This is anonymized data on a person level about health care expenditure, debts, income, assets, age and gender.

To find out which people had problematic debts in those five years, the researchers also used data from the CAK. This organization takes over the insurance from the private insurer if someone does not pay his or her health insurance premium for six months. Debtors then end up in the Defaulters Regulation. They can only get out of there once their debt has been paid off.

Those who do not pay the health care premium often have other financial problems

The differences between people with and without problematic debts are clearly visible here. For people who ended up in the CAK’s Default Payments Regulation in 2013, expenditure on mental health care (GGZ) rose on average by 200 euros in 2014 and 2015, an increase of 30 percent.

This group also has an increased chance of using mental health care and about 40 percent more often makes use of social or financial assistance. Furthermore, the debtors are more often male than female, and they also more often have a migration background than people without these debts.

Precise dates

The CBS microdata provides more precise and objective information than in many previous studies, the researchers write. They often used questionnaires in which people had to estimate their own situation in the field of finances and health.

In addition, the CPB study covers the period from 2011 to 2015. “Many studies only look at the situation of people at one point in time. We follow people through time for a little longer,” said Anne-Fleur Roos, one of the authors of the report.

Incidentally, not paying the health insurance premium is one of the most common debts in the Netherlands – and a good indicator of other financial problems. Between 2011 and 2015, around 300,000 people were unable to meet their premium obligation.

For the whole of the Netherlands, 7.6 percent of households have (registered) problematic debts, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands. That is about 1 in 13 households. Although the percentage of households with problematic debts did not increase last year after the start of the pandemic, the proportion of self-employed or self-employed people without employees did increase.