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April 3, 2018

From Misfortune to MortalitySudden Loss of Wealth and Increased Risk of Death

Author Affiliations
  • 1Office of the Provost, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2018;319(13):1327-1328. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.3418

Whether it is the consequence of unfortunate decisions or unavoidable circumstances, financial loss and ruin can disrupt lives and can be both a result and a harbinger of catastrophic decline in health. The intriguing study by Pool and colleagues1 in this issue of JAMA raises an important question that has been easier to explore with anecdotes and hypothetical examples than by analyzing population data: is financial ruin a harbinger of physical decline? Specifically, are people who lose much of their wealth more likely to die?