Homeownership is consistently associated with better mental health, but whether becoming a homeowner in later in life has positive psychological benefits has not, to our knowledge, been examined. We assessed whether acquiring a home after age 50 years was associated with depression in a representative sample of older US adults. We used individual fixed-effects models based on data from 20,524 respondents aged ≥50 years from the Health and Retirement Study, who were interviewed biennially during 1993-2010. Depressive symptoms were measured using the 8-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Controlling for confounders, becoming a homeowner in later life predicted a decline in depressive symptoms in the same year (β = '0.0768, 95% confidence interval (CI): '0.152, '0.007). The association remained significant after 2 years (β = '0.0556, 95% CI: '0.134, '0.001) but weakened afterward. Buying a home for reasons associated with positive characteristics of the new house or neighborhood drove this association (β = '0.426, 95% CI: '0.786, '0.066), while acquiring a home for reasons associated with characteristics of the previous home or neighborhood, the desire to be closer to relatives, downsizing, or upsizing did not predict mental health improvements. Findings suggest that there are small but significant benefits for mental health associated with acquiring a home in older age.

Additional Metadata
Keywords aging, depression, fixed-effects models, homeownership, housing
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwx278, hdl.handle.net/1765/118024
Journal American Journal of Epidemiology
Courtin, E. (Emilie), Dowd, J.B. (Jennifer B), & Avendano Pabon, M. (2018). The Mental Health Benefits of Acquiring a Home in Older Age: A Fixed-Effects Analysis of Older US Adults. American Journal of Epidemiology, 187(3), 465–473. doi:10.1093/aje/kwx278