An analysis of 650,000 interviews conducted in 2008 and 2009 suggests that anxiety seems to steadily decrease with age. The Gallup Well-Being Index spoke with an age-spanning spectrum of adults, asking respondents if they experienced worry “a lot of the day yesterday.”
The peak percentage of affirmative answers came from those in their 40s. Thirty-six to 37 percent claimed to have experienced recent anxiety, with affirmative answers dropping to 23 percent for those in their mid-60s, and to just 15 percent for those 91 and older.
When Gallup substituted the term “stress” for “worry,” percentages were higher across every age group, but they followed the same general decline with age. Stress among adults seems to peak at an earlier age than anxiety, leveling off slightly after 25. A lofty 48 percent of Americans in their 20s claim to have experienced significant stress in the previous day, but the percentage, like that of those who worry, dissipates to 23 percent around age 65.
While the study determined that American parents worry more than those without children, and that the elderly are less likely to have kids in their households, parenthood does not explain the trend of stress/worry reduction with age. The same pattern emerged when analyzing adults without children—as we age, we feel less anxiety.
The study also concluded that women worry more than men at every age, and that the employed are less anxious than the jobless. While an explanation of the stress-reduction phenomenon remains at large, Gallup reports that “seniors are the only age group satisfied with the amount of time they have to enjoy life.” iBi