Women at Higher Risk for Inflation-Related Stress

(Medscape) - Rising inflation is causing significant stress in the US population, especially among women and the socioeconomically vulnerable, a new study indicates.

An examination of data from a US Census Bureau survey found that after adjustment for socioeconomic status (SES), the risk for inflation stress was 28% higher among women than among men. The extent to which inflation-related stress contributed to disparities in health outcomes is unclear, however.

"Inflation stress is not borne equally within the population," lead author Cary Wu, PhD, an assistant professor of sociology at York University in Toronto, Canada, told Medscape Medical News. "My research shows that women are more likely than men to find inflation stressful. This could come from the gendered roles that lead to their higher exposure to price changes. Racial minorities who are often occupying lower SES also show higher odds of finding inflation stressful."

The study was published May 15 in JAMA Network Open.

SES and Stress

For their study, the researchers analyzed data from the US Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey, an online, probability-based survey that measures the social and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergent issues on American households. The researchers examined data collected from September 2022 to February 2023. The survey included question, "How stressful has the increase in prices in the last 2 months been for you?" The researchers also examined sociodemographic variables, such as gender, race and ethnicity, age, marital status, education, and household income.

Among 369,328 respondents, 5.1% were Asian, 11.2% were Black, 17.3% were Hispanic, and 62.1% were White. Women made up 51.3% of the group, roughly one third (31.8%) had a bachelor's degree or higher level of education, and the median age of the respondents was 49 years. Among the 93.2% of respondents who reported that prices had increased in the past 2 months, 47.3% indicated that this was very stressful, 28.2% described it as being moderately stressful, 18.9% felt it was a little stressful, and 5.6% did not find it stressful.

A base model that included gender, race, marital status, age, region, and week of survey indicated that women had significantly higher inflation-related stress than men (odds ratio [OR], 1.30). Black and Hispanic respondents reported higher inflation stress than White respondents (OR, 1.25 and 1.65, respectively). In contrast, Asian respondents reported lower inflation stress than White respondents (OR, 0.86).

By Kate Johnson
May 24, 2023


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