A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences link mathematical abilities (or the lack thereof) to your risk of foreclosure. More specifically, if you lack the average math skills to divide 300 by 2, you’re far more likely to experience mortgage trouble and a foreclosure, according to the study. Five questions were asked on the math skills text, including the division problem above. The study’s authors state that math skills were a largely reliable predictor of financial literacy and of how a homeowner would handle mortgage debt.
How Math Skills Influence Foreclosures
While mortgage debt and foreclosure may not result from mortgage decisions homeowners make, these challenges could be the side effect of poor financial planning elsewhere. Regardless of where it occurs, the study’s authors argue that poor mathematical ability is a positive predictor of mortgage debt and default.
Out of the 5 questions provided – all of which were at the same difficultly level as the aforementioned division problem – approximately 1 in 7 Americans were unable to correctly answer two or more of the problems. These Americans were 4 times more likely to experience mortgage debt that results in a default or foreclosure.
Aside from its publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, part of what makes this study so notable is the extremes that researchers went to, in order to ensure accurate results. They considered income, education levels, type of mortgage, IQ, sex, geographical location, and much more during the study. Though the researchers link mathematic abilities to the risk of foreclosure, the study does not offer insight as to why.
Fortunately, even if poor math skills translate into runaway mortgage debt, which in turn transforms into a foreclosure, homeowners have many resources to navigate the difficult financial waters, such as foreclosure attorneys. Many view the study as a reminder that mortgage debt and debt management strategies are a numbers game, and dealing with debt as a math problem is an effective way of handling it. By understanding mortgage debt and your financial profile at its mathematical core, you’ll be able to determine the best financial strategy for you.