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Surprising number of older adults weathered the 'Great Recession' without financial strain
Date:8/17/2014

n" is a subjective measure that was based on self-reporting rather than on economic indicators. To measure financial strain, the study examined whether respondents had difficulty making monthly payments and whether and to what degree they were satisfied with their present financial situation.

"Difficulty in making payments may appear more objective than satisfaction, but it's still a person's perception of his or her financial situation," Wilkinson said. "Two people might have the same amount left over every month, but one might say, 'Oh, my goodness, that's not enough,' while the other might say, 'Well, I paid my bills.' Subjective measures matter, because it's your reality and that has an effect on health."

A 2011 survey by the American Association of Retired Persons indicated that "the Great Recession drove millions of older Americans to deplete savings accounts, put off medical or dental treatment, and reduce their retirement expectations."

Wilkinson tested the theory that financial strain would have a negative effect on mental health by using three measures whether and to what degree respondents felt anxiety, whether and to what degree they were depressed, and whether they used anti-depressants, tranquilizers, or medicine for nerves.

Less than 10 percent of respondents in 2006 were taking mood-altering drugs (such as antidepressants or tranquilizers), which increased to 13 percent in 2010.

Respondents in Wilkinson's study completed both face-to-face interviews and self-administered questionnaires in 2006 and 2010. Questions dealt with daily life stressors, well-being, and psychosocial resources. The average age of those in the study in 2006 was 64, with most (68 percent) married and less than half employed. The average self-rating of health was 3.4 (on a scale of 1 to 5).

Those who were employed were more likely to have increased financial strain, most likely due to worries about high unemployment and jo
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Contact: Daniel Fowler
pubinfo@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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