Consumer credit scores as a novel tool for identifying health in urban U.S. neighborhoods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Credit scores may operate as a socioeconomic indicator of health: they represent cumulative financial history that directly influences ability to access financial and nonfinancial resources related to health. Yet, little is known about the relationship of credit score and health or to traditional measures of socioeconomic position (SEP). Our objectives were to (1) evaluate the association between area-level credit score and individual self-rated health and (2) compare credit score to traditional markers of area-level SEP in predicting self-rated health. Methods: Equifax estimates of average household credit score in 2015 among nine-digit zip code regions were combined with a representative survey of 2083 residents of Philadelphia to estimate the correlation with income, housing value, education, and occupational status and then predict the odds of self-rated health for credit score and each SEP measure. Results: Credit score was moderately correlated with SEP markers (r = −0.78 to 0.49). After adjusting for area- and individual-level SEP and demographic factors, each SD increase in credit score is associated with 26% greater odds of better self-rated health (odds ratio = 1.26, 95% confidence interval: 1.09–1.46). Credit score had a larger effect size than other SEP markers. Conclusions: Credit score may be a useful complement to traditional measures of SEP in assessing health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)724-729
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of epidemiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Income
  • Philadelphia
  • Socioeconomic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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