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

money on my mind project

Research team: Ruud Gerards (ROA), Bert Schreurs (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Riccardo Welters (James Cook University), Imke Dirkx (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Sander Dijksman (ROA)

Subsidized by: Think Forward Initiative https://www.thinkforwardinitiative.com/

Latest publication: https://www.thinkforwardinitiative.com/stories/meet-the-researcher-bert-schreurs-ruud-gerards-riccardo-welters

Detailed project website: https://financialwellbeingstudy.com/

Duration: 2020-2022

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

A substantial and increasing share of households in industrialised countries have incomes too low to cover all basic needs, and regularly forego on needs such as heating their house or buying essential clothing. These people have ‘money on their mind’. Whilst the body of literature studying financial worry is growing, little is known about the dynamics of financial worry. With this project, we aim to:

  1. examine the extent to which financial worry is “dynamic”, that is, does an individual’s financial worry change over time, for instance, from one week to another even when their financial position has not necessarily changed?;
  2. examine how changes in individuals’ financial worry relate to and influence their personal well-being, social and human capital, and labour market behaviour; and
  3. identify moderating factors that could mitigate the negative effects of financial worry; that is, factors that may offset the harmful effects of financial worry and eventually help in breaking the poverty cycle.

Over a period of six months, we will conduct bi-weekly surveys of individuals with various backgrounds, in three countries (Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands), to monitor their financial worry in relation to the various outcome variables. In addition, we will test if financial worry depends on personality, community and organizational support, and culture. This will be the first study that investigates how and why the detrimental effects of financial distress are reinforced over time. Our longitudinal design allows the investigation of the often cited but rarely tested cyclical (or spiralling) effect of poverty.

Our research will reveal patterns in financial worry and the circumstances and behaviours that may reinforce or break those patterns. This is of utmost importance to individuals and households in financially precarious situations as well as to policymakers in the public sector, and to practitioners and other stakeholders in the private sector, including financial institutions.


This international research project is led by psychologist Dr. Bert Schreurs and economists Dr. Ruud Gerards and Dr. Riccardo Welters.

  • Dr. Bert Schreurs is a Professor of Human Resources Management at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Solvay Business School —Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium.
  • Dr. Ruud Gerards is a Coordinating Senior Researcher 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.

The ‘Think Forward Initiative’ has funded the research, which aims to help empower people financially.


Related publications

Gerards, R., and Welters, R. (2020). Liquidity constraints, unemployed job search and labour market outcomes. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics. Vol. 82. Issue 3, pp. 625-646.  https://doi.org/10.1111/obes.12345

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