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Saving Oneself Tied To Saving For The Future

New research suggests poor physical and financial health are the products of similar underlying psychological factors.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that the decision to contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan predicted whether or not someone will try to improve poor physical health as indicated during an employer-sponsored health examination.

“We find that existing retirement contribution patterns and future health improvements are highly correlated,” said the investigators.

“Those who save for the future by contributing to a 401(k) improved abnormal health test results and poor health behaviors approximately 27 percent more than non-contributors.”

Researchers Lamar Pierce, Ph.D., and Ph.D. candidate Timothy Gubler discuss their findings in a study found in the journal Psychological Science.

In the paper, Gubler and Pierce provide evidence that insufficient retirement funds and chronic health problems are at least partially driven by the same time discounting preferences.

Gubler and Pierce studied personnel and health data from eight industrial laundry locations in multiple states.

They found the previous decision of an employee to forego immediate income and contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan predicted whether he or she would respond positively to the revelation of poor physical health.

Gubler and Pierce wanted to compare 401(k) contributors and non-contributors on how much they were willing to change a health risk.

Employees were given an initial health screening. Ninety-seven percent of them had at least one abnormal blood test and 25 percent had at least one severely abnormal finding.

They were told of the results, which were sent to the worker’s personal physicians. Workers also were given information on risky health behaviors and anticipated future health risks.

The researchers followed the laundry workers for two years to see how they attempted to improve their health, and if those changes were tied to financial planning.

After controlling for differences in initial health, demographics, and job type, the researchers found that retirement savings and health improvement behaviors are highly correlated.

Those who had previously chosen to save for the future through 401(k) contributions improved their health significantly more than non-contributors, despite having few health differences prior to program implementation.

Source: Washington University in St. Louis

Saving Oneself Tied To Saving For The Future

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Saving Oneself Tied To Saving For The Future. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/07/02/psychological-factors-influence-health-and-wealth/71988.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.