Financial Stress Hits Half of Adults: Inflation and Paycheck-to-Paycheck Woes Torment


In a comprehensive study conducted across multiple advanced economies, a staggering half or more of adults report experiencing significant financial stress. The survey, conducted by SurveyMonkey International in partnership with Your Money Financial Security, delves into the financial well-being of individuals in major countries.

Stress and Inflation’s Grip

Notably, inflation emerged as a primary culprit behind the widespread financial anxiety. Adults in countries like the U.S., Australia, Spain, and Mexico expressed particularly high levels of stress, with around 70% indicating that they felt “very or somewhat stressed” about managing their finances. Even in more economically stable countries like the U.K., Germany, and Switzerland, the percentage of stressed individuals ranged from 55% to 63%.

Middle Class Squeezed

The survey also sheds light on the challenges faced by the middle class, traditionally considered financially secure. Surprisingly, a majority of middle-income earners in countries like the U.K., Spain, and Mexico reported living paycheck to paycheck. This paints a vivid picture of how financial disparities are encroaching on the middle class, leaving them vulnerable to financial shocks.

A Grim Comparison

Compounding the concern, many adults expressed a sense of financial regression. In countries like Australia, Germany, and the U.K., over half of the surveyed adults felt worse off financially than they were five years ago. Only Singapore and Mexico stood out as countries where adults were more likely to perceive financial improvement compared to their parents.

Survey Highlights

The survey surveyed 4,342 adults in March and released its findings this week. According to Eric Johnson, CEO of SurveyMonkey, “The health of the global economy, though muted in some areas, is not being reflected in the perceptions of the average person.”

Despite positive economic growth indicators, widespread financial stress persists, eroding the financial well-being of individuals worldwide. Amidst rising inflation and interest rates, consumers remain burdened by the increasing cost of living, dampening their financial prospects and outlook.

Key Findings

  • Half or more of adults across major economies report significant financial stress.
  • Inflation is cited as a primary source of financial anxiety.
  • A majority of middle-income earners live paycheck to paycheck in countries like the U.K., Spain, and Mexico.
  • Over half of adults in Australia, Germany, and the U.K. feel worse off financially than five years ago.
  • Only adults in Singapore and Mexico are more likely to report financial improvement compared to their parents.
  • Eric Johnson, CEO of SurveyMonkey, notes the disconnect between economic indicators and public perception.

Global Economic Context

While global economic growth continues, the impact of inflation and interest rate increases on consumers cannot be overlooked. Resilient labor markets have provided some respite, but sentiment among consumers remains grim as they navigate rising household costs. The survey serves as a stark reminder of the challenges many individuals face in managing their finances and highlights the need for policies and initiatives to address the growing financial anxiety.