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Press release
Consumer Health|Market Opportunities and Innovation|Global|English

Money and self-pressure are the leading major causes of stress internationally

Nuremberg, 25.11.2015

With the pressure of Christmas shopping already underway, GfK has released findings from a 22-country survey looking at the major causes of stress in people’s daily lives. Money, self-pressure and lack of sleep are the top three major causes of stress internationally.

The online study, which was conducted this summer, asked over 27,000 consumers to identify major causes of stress from a given list1. Overall, almost three in ten (29 percent) people cite the amount of money that they have to live on, making this the leading major cause of stress internationally. This is followed by the pressure that people put upon themselves (27 percent), not getting enough sleep (23 percent) and not having time for the things they want to (22 percent). The amount of work people have to get done in the day (cited by 19 percent) comes next, completing the top five most common major causes of stress internationally.

Japan and Germany relatively free of major stress

The good news is that, overall, three in ten people (30 percent) are relatively stress-free, saying none of the list count as a major cause of stress for them (although many rate them as minor causes of stress). This is led by Japan, where nearly a half of respondents (48 percent) say none of the items listed are a major cause of stress, followed by Germany at 44 percent and then the Netherlands and Hong Kong level at 37 percent. The other end of the scale is held by Turkey, where only one in ten (10 percent) make this claim, followed by Argentina (12 percent) and Mexico (13 percent).

Top five major causes of stress change with age

When looking at different age groups, people aged between 15 and 39 register the same five factors as their leading major causes of stress – although the order differs for each age group. From 40 years old, people increasingly perceive the amount of work they have to do in the day as less of a major stress factor, and worries about health appear in their top five major causes of stress instead. For those aged 50 and over, taking care of a family member who is ill, elderly, or has other needs or problems appears for the first time in their top five major causes of stress. And people over 60 stop seeing the pressure they put on themselves as a top five stress factor anymore, and this is overtaken (but only by a small margin) by worry over threats from the outside world, such as natural disasters or terrorism.

National differences in causes of stress

Internationally, only 14 percent of people (13 percent of men and 15 percent of women) see the threat of crime as a major cause of stress. But in Latin American countries this increases dramatically to 41 percent in Argentina, 39 percent in Brazil and 36 percent in Mexico – making it into the top five major causes of stress within each country. In addition, the gender gap over this issue increases significantly in Latin America, compared to the international average, with women in these countries an average of 10 percentage points ahead of men in seeing the treat of crime as a major cause of stress.

A similar situation is seen for those people agreeing that their children are a major cause of stress. The international average for this is 14 percent – but, in Turkey and France, this more than doubles to 31 percent and 30 percent respectively. However, it would be wrong to assume that this means that perceived stress caused by children is equal in both countries. In France, the vote of 30 percent puts ‘children’ into the top five major causes of stress for that country, whereas, in Turkey, their vote of 31 percent actually means that children come last as a major cause of stress, behind the 13 other items lists that all won higher percentages within that country. 

About the study

GfK conducted an online survey with over 27,000 consumers aged 15 or older in 22 countries. Fieldwork was carried out over the summer 2015 and the data have been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the online population age 15+ in each market. The countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK and USA.

1) The survey question asked: “Please indicate which of these things are a major cause of stress in your life: The amount of money you have to live on / Your children / The amount of work you have to get done in the day / The people you have to work with / Your spouse / Getting to and from the places you have to go each day / Your parents / Pressure you put on yourself / Your health / Not getting enough sleep / The threat of crime / Not having time for the things I want to do / Threats from the outside world (natural disaster, terrorism, etc.) / Taking care of a family member (beyond normal parenting), who is ill, elderly, or has other needs or problems (e.g., financial, housekeeping, etc.)”

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Infographic: International average

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Infographic: Country overview

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About GfK

GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices. 


For more information, please visit www.GfK.com or follow GfK on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GfK

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