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The Recession’s Impact on Older Americans

The Recession’s Impact on Older Americans

photo: grandfather and grandson fishing

The study is based on data from 4,412 older Americans collected in April and May of this year in a special Internet survey of respondents of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative sample of Americans age 51 and older conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).

"We asked the same older workers what the chances were that they would still be working full time after age 65, and they went up from 47 percent to 57 percent between 2008 and 2009---a very rapid change after a long period of stability," said ISR economist David Weir, director of the Health and Retirement Study. The chances of working past 62 went up from 60 percent to 65 percent.

"This study is the first to show a clear change in work expectations among the same group of older Americans," Weir said. "The findings provide compelling evidence that people have changed their retirement plans as a result of the financial crisis."

"Many older Americans are experiencing the financial crisis more through the housing troubles of their children than through their own difficulties," Weir said. "Nearly 10 percent said someone else in their family had fallen behind on a mortgage."

Weir found that the recession and the resulting financial losses were taking a psychological toll on older Americans as well. Those reporting four or more symptoms of depression---a level consistent with a diagnosis of clinically significant depression --increased from 11 percent before the crisis to 18 percent after the crisis.

"Anxiety produced by the financial crisis, whether about their own situation, their children's or the nation's, is having an impact on the mental health of older Americans that, if it persists, could have effects on physical health, as well, given what we know about the influence of depression on physical health," he said.

But, Weir said, while older Americans have been affected by the economic crisis that began last fall, and continue to feel the effects, they are coping relatively well.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan

 
 
 

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