No Shortage of Stress

While the grim economic news has focused attention on people’s financial worries, non-economic irritants exert their own stress. A newly released Harris Poll, fielded in late October and early November, gives a sense of how large some of these loom in American life.

Respondents were given a list of stressful experiences and asked to say whether they’ve endured each of them in the past month. Fifty-eight percent of women and 53 percent of men said they’ve had “too many things to do”; 53 percent of women and 41 percent of men have had “trouble sleeping”; 49 percent of women and 40 percent of men have had “concerns about health in general”; 30 percent of women and 25 percent of men have experienced “being lonely”; 19 percent of women and 18 percent of men have suffered “frequent or excessive noise.”

Despite the stereotype of solitary geezers and gregarious young folks, 18-31-year-olds were more apt than 63-plusers to say they’ve been lonely in the past month (45 percent vs. 13 percent). Concerns about health peak among 44-62-year-olds (49 percent); 18-31-year-olds are the most likely to endure excessive noise (26 percent).

Overall, 26 percent of respondents said they have “a lot” of stress in their lives (whether from economic or non-economic factors). Another 47 percent suffer “some” stress. Women were far more likely than men to say they have a lot of stress in their lives (30 percent vs. 22 percent). And with all due respect to the joys of parenthood, let it be noted that 33 percent of respondents with kids in the household said they have a lot of stress, vs. 23 percent of those without kids.