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Driving ourselves to depression

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My grandmother honks at every car waiting to pull out onto the street on which she’s driving, just to let them know she’s coming. She’s afraid they’re distracted and won’t know she’s there. She’s afraid of something like that, yet she’s not afraid of the current recession. Go figure. New research from the Pew Research Center backs her up. Adults 65 and older are less likely than younger and middle-aged adults to say they’ve cut back on spending that in the past year; suffered losses in their retirement accounts; or experienced trouble paying for housing or medical care. They’re more likely to report being very satisfied with their personal finances. And they’re less likely to say the recession has been a source of stress in their family.

By contrast, adults in late middle age (50 to 64) have seen their nest eggs shrink the most and their anxieties about retirement swell the most. Three-quarters of this so-called Threshold Generation say that the nation’s current economic problems will make it more difficult for them to afford retirement. One reason that late-middle-aged adults feel so vulnerable is that their nest eggs have taken the brunt of Wall Street’s meltdown. Two-thirds of adults ages 50 to 64 say they lost money in the past year in mutual funds, individual stocks or 401(k)-type retirement accounts. Of those who report such losses, two in ten say they lost more than 40 percent of their investments’ value and nearly four in ten say they lost 20 percent to 40 percent. By comparison, far fewer older adults or younger adults report losing money in stocks and retirement accounts in the past year.


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