How Painful Is a Recession? An Assessment of Two Future-Oriented Buffering Mechanisms

Lindsay Wilkinson, Baylor University
Markus Schafer, University of Toronto
Renae Wilkinson

Guided by stress process theory, this study investigates the influence of the economic downturn on chronic pain, as well as the role of two future-oriented buffering mechanisms (anticipated stressor duration and pre-recession financial optimism) in this relationship. We consider both an objective measure of the recession based on personal experience, as well as a subjective event-based appraisal of the recession. Drawing on three waves of data from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (N = 1,062), we used linear lagged dependent variable models to examine the consequences of the Great Recession for chronic pain. The findings reveal that both an accumulation of adverse experiences and global appraisals of the economic recession have harmful, longitudinal implications for chronic pain; however, the consequences for each varied according to future-oriented moderating factors. Overall, our study demonstrates that positive future orientations can be protective for health during an economic crisis.

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 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2