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Women's Most Pressing Concerns Today Are Money, Family, Health and Stress

Women's Most Pressing Concerns Today Are Money, Family, Health and Stress

Women's concerns vary greatly by life stage; health becomes increasingly important in senior years


PRINCETON, NJ -- Women in America today are most concerned about money issues, their families, their health, and the problems of time management and stress, according to a new survey conducted by Gallup for Relatively few women, particularly those over age 30, are concerned about their job or career. Women's concerns vary significantly by the age and life stage of the woman, with concerns about family and stress dropping off after age 50, to be replaced by ever-increasing concerns about health as women age. Money concerns, however, appear with similar frequency among all groups up to age 70.

Women in America Today
The average American woman today is married (or has been married at some point in her life), and well over half of women under age 65 are employed, at least part time. Additionally, a majority of women under age 50 have children under the age of 18 in the household. Specifically:

  • About six out of ten women aged 18 and older in America today are currently married
  • Another one-quarter used to be married, but are now widowed, divorced or separated
  • About 5% of women are living together with a partner, but not married
  • Only about 13% of women have never been married -- 38% of women aged 18-29, 11% of women 30-49, and only 3% or less among women 50 and older
  • A fairly high percentage of women in America today, 43%, have children under 18 living at home.
  • Fifty-nine percent of women between 18 and 29 have children in the home, and 70% of those in the 30- to 49-year-old age bracket have children in the home
  • Of those women who have children, two-thirds are married; one-third are single
  • A little over half of all women are employed -- 43% full time and 13% part time. Employment is highly age related, peaking in the 30- to 49-year bracket, in which 73% of women are employed, dropping to just 13% of those 65 and older who are employed.
Thus, the average woman in America today is is highly likely to be either working outside the home or dealing with children, and, in about three out of ten households, doing both:
  • Working, With Children:29% of America's women are working and have children under 18 at home
  • Children, Not Working:14% of America's women have a traditional "Leave It to Beaver" household: children at home, but not working
  • Working, No Children:27% of America's women work, and have no children at home
  • Neither Work Nor Have Children:30% of America's women neither work nor have children at home

Women's Most Pressing Concerns
The survey asked American women the following question: "Thinking about your own life -- what is the biggest challenge you personally face in your daily life today?" The results show that women have a wide variety of issues that challenge them as they go about their daily lives, but that several -- particularly economic issues and family concerns -- dominate. Additionally, these concerns vary significantly, particularly by age and life situation. The top seven categories of concerns are as follows:

  1. Money: 26% of women are faced most directly by economic concerns today, including such things as the cost of living, meeting financial needs, and high taxes
  2. Family: 22% of women's most pressing concern is their family
  3. Health: 15% of women's most pressing daily concern is their health
  4. Time and Stress: 14% of women are most concerned about stress, managing their time, getting things done, and balancing their lives
  5. Job and Career: 8% of women are most concerned about their job and career
  6. Education: 7% of women are most concerned about education and schooling -- both for themselves and their children
  7. Equality and Equal Rights: 4% of women are most concerned about equality, equal opportunity and discrimination
Perhaps not surprisingly, the family is of greatest concern to women with children, while stress and time management are most likely to be mentioned by women who work outside the home, whether or not they have children. Concerns over one's job and career are generally equally likely to be mentioned by working women whether or not they have children. Health concerns are most important to women who neither work nor have children, primarily because they tend to be older:
Most Pressing Personal Concern by Life Situation
  Work With Children
29% of American Women
Children, No Work
14% of American Women
Work, No Children
27% of American Women
Neither Work Nor Children
30% of American Women
Money 28% 20% 34% 19%
Family 40 42 8 9
Health 5 6 9 33
Time and Stress 22 10 16 7
Job and Career 12 9 10 3
Education 8 16 5 5
Equality 2 2 9 3

One of the most important underlying correlates of these personal concerns is age. The survey results show that life concerns vary dramatically as women move through the life course. The most dramatic variation by age relates to health: as women get older, the percentage who mention health in response to this concern question increases dramatically, far outdistancing all other issues for women by the time they reach their 70s:

  • Family concernspeak in the 30-39 age group, and then decline after 50
  • Money concernsare remarkably stable across all age groups until the woman reaches 70, at which time health overwhelms everything else
  • Health concernsbegin to crop into the American woman's thinking after age 50, and by age 60 become their number one concern. By age 70, health dominates women's thinking as their major concern in life.
  • Job and career concernsmanifest themselves only minimally, and after age 30 drop into single-digit range
  • Women are most likely to be concerned withtime, stress and life balancein the 30-39 age bracket. Time and stress concerns drop as major concerns after age 50, but remain on the radarscope even into old age.
  • Education, like family, is a concern to women under 50.
Most Pressing Personal Concern by Age Group
  18-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70+
  % % % % % %
Money 30 28 26 27 27 23
Family 27 33 27 15 11 8
Health 5 6 10 15 27 40
Time and Stress 13 24 15 11 7 9
Job and Career 16 8 10 8 2 --
Education 13 9 11 4 1 --
Equality 6 5 6 6 -- --

The top three concerns for each age group are as follows:

Top Three Personal Concerns by Age Group
18-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70+
1.Money 1.Family 1.Family 1.Money 1.Health 1.Health
2.Family 2.Money 2.Money 2.Health 2.Money  
3.Job and
3.Time and
3.Time and
3.Family 3.Family  

Survey Methods
The results reported here are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,205 women, 18 years and older, conducted February 23-27, 2000. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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