Is Middle Age Far More Stressful Now, Compared to the ’90s?

Shirley Amy
May 19, 2020

New research shows that “life may be more stressful now than it was in the 1990’s, especially for people between the ages of 45 and 64.” If you think that you get more stressed out in the 21st century than you used to back in the 90’s, scientific findings conducted by Penn State, show the same.

midlife stress

Putting a Magnifying Glass on the Study

In the report published in the journal, American Psychologist, scientists concluded that across all age groups, there was a slight increase in daily stress in the 2010’s compared to the 1990’s. When they limited the sampling to individuals between age 45 and 64, there was an acute increase in everyday stress.

One of Penn State’s well known professors of human development and family studies, David M. Almeida, remarked, “On average, people reported about 2% more stressors in the 2010’s compared to people in the past. That’s around an additional week of stress a year. But what really surprised us is that people at mid-life reported a lot more stressors, about 19 percent more stress in 2010 than in 1990. That translates to 64 more days of stress a year.” – Basically just over two months!

These study results are very valuable, as they are contributing to a larger research program which is deigned to ascertain whether or not the mental health and wellness of US citizens, has gone downhill over this timespan. Indeed, Almeida echoed what many of us feel, and added: “Certainly, when you talk to people, they seem to think that daily life is more hectic and less certain these days.”

The Penn State project comprised adults’ data from 782 individuals (in 2012), and 1,499 individuals (in 1995). Almeida noted that the scientists’ intention was to analyse two cohorts of subjects who were the same age when the information was collected, although there was a difference – some were born in the 20th century, and some in the 21st century. All subjects spent 8 days answering questions.


Once the data was studied, the scientists discovered that the subjects reported significantly more daily stress and lower well-being in the 2010s compared to the 1990s. Additionally, participants reported a 27% increase in the belief that stress would affect their finances and a 17% increase in the belief that stress would affect their future plans.

Surprise Findings – A Generational Squeeze

The scientific team were shocked with some of the results, as they believed that with the economic uncertainty, life might be more stressful for younger adults. In fact, they saw more stress for people at mid-life. And maybe that is because they have children who are facing an uncertain job market while also responsible for their own parents. It’s this generational squeeze that’s making stress more prevalent for people at mid-life.

Technical Advances

Almeida felt that the additional stress could be partially due to life “speeding up” due to the tech revolution. He recommends turning off  WI-FI, and giving our cells a break from the non-stop onslaught of  dangerous radiation. Perhaps some readers could follow my lead, and turn it off a few hours before bedtime.

Shirley Amy

Shirley Amy is a Holistic Health Specialist and professional writer who's published 4 books. Her  interests include optimum wellness, mental health, fitness, and positive lifestyle change. She holds University and College qualifications in the fields of Health Science, Nutrition, Mental Health, Fitness, Holistic Therapy and Aromatherapy.

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