Skip to Main Content

Food Insecurity Among Older Adults in the U.S.: The Role of Mortgage Borrowing

Journal Title Applied Economics Perspectives and Policy
Published Date December 12, 2021
Research Type


Housing wealth is the main source of wealth for many older adults. Using the Health and Retirement Study, we assess the impact of new mortgage borrowing on food insecurity among homeowners aged 65 and older. We find a substantial short-term effect, with each additional $10,000 borrowed, lowering food insecurity by 2.2 percentage points. In a simulation of the impact of relaxing the debt-to-income borrowing constraint, food insecurity is reduced by 2.1 percentage points for previous nonborrowers and by 1.6 percentage points for borrowers. Results support the importance of access to mortgage borrowing to reduce material hardship in older age.