The American “Sandwich Generation” has less bite: survey

Canadians between the ages of 50 to 64 are less worried about the future than their American counterparts, according to an Alberta researcher.

“The Americans were generally close to a panicked state,” said Susan McDaniel, a sociology researcher and demographics expert, in a Newswise release. “Essentially, they were saying ‘I’m feeling I’ve lost control, I can’t plan’.”

McDaniel has been working on a comparative study of Canadians and Americans between the ages of 50 and 64. She shared her survey’s preliminary findings during the 2010 Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Montreal’s Concordia University.

Survey researchers were surprised to see such an almost helpless attitude which “runs counter to the image of Americans” as being independent people responsible for their lives and their future, said McDaniel. Meanwhile, Canadian survey respondents were “worried” but not panicked and felt they had some control over their lives.

The “sandwich generation” is typically recognized as the 50-to-64-year-old age group which often still cares for elderly parents, is still responsible for their children and is trying to save for its impending retirement. Consider this description in the American recessionary landscape since 2008…can you blame this generation for its sense of unease?

On Deadline wanted to share McDaniel’s initial survey findings because we know that among our constant readers, quite a few are Americans in their early 50s. This post is far from the inferiority complex driven type of Canadian drivel (which we find incredibly tiring) that bounces about in the “look, we are better than them” realm.

“…it seems that the old age/retirement experience of our grandparents is long gone in the rearview mirror, no matter which country you call home”- On Deadline

What strikes us about these initial survey findings is they point to a very different “old age” experience for people living on either side of the 49th parallel. Frankly, whatever the survey’s official findings conclude, it seems that the old age/retirement experience of our grandparents is long gone in the rearview mirror, no matter which country you call home.

McDaniel and her research team coincidentally started their research as the recession hit two years ago. She explained that the housing bubble burst and stock market decline had the sandwich generation worried “that their plans for retirement were shot. Health care was another major concern, particularly for people who feared they might lose health insurance if they lost their job.”

No specific survey rationale was yet available on why Canadians felt more at ease but one does not have to look too far beyond how firmly our banking sector has survived and our free public health care network.

The study also found that more middle-aged Americans than Canadians are living in multi-generational households. McDaniel said she was not able to identify why this was the case but wondered if it was a ripple effect result of the housing bubble- more American children who lost their home had moved back in with their parents.

– with files from Newswise

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