For Americans age 65-plus, the current downturn "has been a kinder, gentler recession -- relatively speaking." So says a Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends study released last month. The economy has given its worst beating to the "threshold generation" -- the 50-64-year-olds who are near retirement age but have seen their investments falter even as their job security fades.
In polling fielded in April, 38 percent of those 65-plus said the recession "has caused stress" in their family, vs. 52 percent of the 18-49-year-olds and 58 percent of the 50-64s. Based on an earlier wave of polling in February and March, the 50-64s are also the ones most likely to have suffered heavy investment losses. Fourteen percent of respondents in that age cohort reported losing more than 40 percent of the worth of their mutual funds, stocks and/or retirement accounts in the prior 12 months; another 29 percent of the 50-64s said they'd lost between 20 percent and 40 percent. Among those 65 and older, just 5 percent lost more than 40 percent on their investments, with another 18 percent of them losing 20-40 percent.