Montreal, Quebec June 1, 2010 Middle-aged Canadians are much less worried about the future than their American counterparts, some of whom are close to panic, says an Alberta researcher who has just finished a survey in both countries. And she says the differing attitudes today may foreshadow growing differences between the two countries as that cohort move into old age.
Susan McDaniel, a sociology researcher and demographics expert, has been working on a comparative study of Canadians and Americans in late middle age, between the ages of 50 and 64. She presents some of the findings at the 2010 Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences taking place at Montreal's Concordia University.
McDaniel says that by coincidence, researchers started doing interviews when the recession hit in 2008. Those interviews highlighted huge differences in the attitudes and expectations of Canadians and Americans in the same age group.
"The Americans were generally close to a panicked state," says McDaniel, explaining that the bursting of the housing bubble and the decline of the stock market had the entire cohort worried that their plans for retirement were shot. Health care was another major concern, particularly for people who feared they might lose health insurance if they lost their job.
"Essentially, they were saying 'I'm feeling I've lost control, I can't plan'," she says, adding that researchers were surprised because that attitude runs counter to the image of Americans as being independent people responsible for their lives and their future. Canadians, on the other hand, were worried but not panicked. And overall, they continued to feel they had some control over their lives.
The 50-to-64-year-old age group is a sandwich generation, often caring for elderly parents on the one hand, and still responsible for their children on the other. In the meantime, they are trying to save for retirement, which for many is now on the
|Contact: Ryan Saxby Hill|
Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences