Helping Our Community to Flourish

‘Money on my mind’: The dynamics of financial worry

A substantial and increasing share of households in Australia have incomes too low to cover all basic needs, and regularly forego on needs such as heating their house or buying essential clothing. Undoubtedly, the current COVID19-crisis will have exacerbated the situation considerably.

It is likely that these households have ‘money on their mind’.

Whilst research has studied the determinants of poverty extensively, research has paid surprisingly little attention to the dynamics of financial worry. That is, does (the perception of) financial worry change over time, for instance, from one week to another even when the financial position has not necessarily changed? And how does financial worry relate to and influence personal well-being, social and human capital, and labour market behaviour? Also, what moderating factors may mitigate the dynamics of financial worry (i.e. break the poverty cycle)?

This international research project conducted by psychologist Dr. Bert Schreurs and economists Dr. Ruud Gerards and Dr. Riccardo Welters intends to answer these questions across three industrialised countries (Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands).

The project will conduct bi-weekly surveys of individuals with various backgrounds for a period of six months, in the three countries, monitoring their financial worry. It will be the first study that investigates whether, and if so how, the effects of financial distress reinforce themselves over time. Our longitudinal design allows the investigation of the often cited but rarely tested cyclical (or spiralling) effect of poverty.

We will soon start recruiting participants in the research. To access a large pool of participants who are willing to complete the (follow-up) surveys, we invite industry partners—who consider this type of research and the outcomes it is likely to provide valuable to their work and the members they represent—to support the research and recommend/persuade their members to participate. In return, we will share the research results with your organisation and are open to discuss the inclusion of related questions in the survey that are of particular interest to your organisation.

The ‘Think Forward Initiative’ has funded the research, which aims to help empower people financially. The research team comprises three researchers across three universities in three countries:

Dr. Bert Schreurs is an Associate Professor in psychology at the Department of Business, Research Group Management and Strategy—Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium.

Dr. Ruud Gerards is a Research Leader at the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA)—Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

Dr. Riccardo Welters is an Associate Professor in economics at the College of Business, Law and Governance—James Cook University, Australia.

Interested in participating? Please contact Riccardo Welters: [email protected].