Relative Deprivation, Conspicuous Consumption, and Medical Financial Hardship: Potential Reasons for Debt and Mental Health

Academic Article


  • This paper examines the associations of potential reasons for debt–including relative deprivation, conspicuous consumption, and medical financial hardship, and how these reasons for debt are associated with mental health. It examines how much debt explains the relationship with poor mental health. We used the 2010 Alabama Omnibus Survey with data on 507 respondents. We found that all three potential reasons for debt were at first associated with more days of poor mental health. Moreover, lower debt and debt stress explained some of the relationship with poor mental health. We also find the conspicuous consumption and mental health association is explained by the debt variables. We conclude with how comparison to others is negatively associated with mental health for individuals and families, especially in the context of a post Great Recession sample.
  • Published In

  • Sociological Focus  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Drentea P; Zhu A; Guo L
  • Start Page

  • 239
  • End Page

  • 252
  • Volume

  • 54
  • Issue

  • 3