Saturday, February 07, 2015

Stressed out America

Money, work, family responsibilities and health concerns--in that order--topped the sources of stress cited by Americans in the survey.

More than 1 in 4 Americans report they feel stressed over money most or all of the time, and most say their stress over money has either remained about the same as last year (59%) or gotten worse (29%). Among those on the economy's lower rungs, 36% report they feel stress over money all or most of the time. Among those living in households with income above $50,000, half as many--18%--acknowledged they felt such chronic financial stress.

In 2007, the nation had no such "stress inequality gap": While average stress levels were higher than they were in 2014, the haves and have-nots professed to experience roughly equal levels of overall stress. By 2014, stress levels began to diverge along income lines. Lower-income households averaged stress levels of 5.2 on a 1-to-10 scale on which 10 was the highest. Those with higher household incomes averaged stress levels of 4.7.

Those living in lower-income households were almost twice as likely as wealthier respondents to tell survey-takers that financial insecurity stands in the way of their living a more healthful lifestyle. Compared with higher-income respondents who experienced less stress, those with high stress and low income were more likely to say they had skipped, or considered skipping, a needed trip to the doctor out of financial concern. They were more likely to say they dealt with their stress in unhealthful ways, such as drinking alcohol, surfing the Internet, watching TV or eating. And they were more likely to say they felt lonely or isolated in their stress.

Parents with children at home--whose stress levels averaged 5.8--were more stressed than those without children at home (whose average stress level was 4.4), and that 58% said that paying for essentials was a significant source of stress.

We should not fret ourselves over the stress of the super-rich, though. The American mega-rich households have an average of 2.9 properties that are together worth an average of $12.9 million according to estimates in a report by data firm Wealth-X and Sotheby’s International Realty, a real-estate broker. New York, with its booming construction of luxury high-rises, is the city with the highest number of homes owned by the ultra-rich. Last year, Sotheby’s sold a Manhattan apartment for $71 million. 

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