So Much for the Notion of Family as Refuge

Since the recession struck, we’ve often heard it said that consumers are finding solace within the family circle. The trouble with this picture of home as refuge from the economic furies is that the recession has raised the stress levels within many families. A Rasmussen Reports poll, fielded at the end of last month, captures the harsh reality.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said the state of the economy is causing “more stress” in their family. Asked if it has “negatively affected your personal relationship with any friend or family member,” 22 percent said this has been the case.

The survey identifies one likely bone of contention: 34 percent of respondents said a family member or friend has “asked to borrow money from you because of the current economic conditions.” Meanwhile, the economy has given some families one more topic to wrangle about: 28 percent of respondents confessed they’ve gotten into a “heated argument with a friend or family member about who is to blame for the state of the economy and how it should be fixed.”

A complicating factor is that people of different generations may not agree on the economy’s effects. In The Economist/YouGov polling last month, 16 percent of 18-29-year-olds said they’re better off financially than they were a year ago, vs. 11 percent of 30-64-year-olds and 6 percent of 65-plusers.

The moral of all this: Ads that depict people cozily waiting out the bad economy with their near and dear ones will fail to ring true for lots of folks.