Squeezed by a mix of personal and professional pressures, middle-age Americans feel the most financial pressure, according to a poll from the national radio program “Marketplace” and Edison Research.
In a survey of 1,000 people, respondents ages 35 to 54 reported having the most financial anxiety when asked questions including “Are you afraid you’ll lose your job?” “How much do you fear not having enough money for retirement or not being able to afford college for your children?” and “How often are you anxious about your financial situation?”
People in midlife often face several competing financial demands, says Larry Rosin, president of Edison Research in Somerville, New Jersey. They may be raising or financially supporting their children, while also helping their parents. Many still are waiting for their housing values and their savings accounts to rebound after the Great Recession and may have anxiety about the security of their jobs. “And they have this looming cliff of impending retirement sort of out there,” Rosin says.
In a “Marketplace” story that aired March 18, reporter Nancy Marshall-Genzer talked with 53-year-old Ira Baron, who lives near Annapolis, Maryland, with his wife, Sharon Simon. His story is illustrative. Baron’s financial portfolio took a hit during the recession and hasn’t fully recovered. He has a good job but is worried about paying for college for two kids and his retirement—pretty much at the same time. Baron told Marshall-Genzer he thinks of both financial matters as clouds he can’t quite see through.
The Marketplace Economic Anxiety Index is designed to “describe how the economy feels on a personal level.” The higher a person falls on the zero to 100 scale, the higher the level of stress. The mean score for all respondents was 31. You can see how you compare to others by taking the quiz here.