Sitting comfortably within the four walls of their house -- safe and found, the young lot is still wary of uncertainties in terms of their careers and financial future at the time of Covid-19, according to a study conducted by Indian Institute of Management Indore.
“Younger people are more worried and stressed, whereas those in the middle and senior-age bracket are more ‘content’,” a web-based stress and emotional state audit by assistant professor Jatin Pandey and chief administrative officer Col (retd) Gururaj Gopinath Pamidi of IIM Indore.
The duo conducted the study to understand the levels of stress during the Covid crisis and subsequent lockdown.
They employed the perceived stress scale to measure stress on a scale ranging from 0 to 40.
The study has interesting findings with respect to differential perception of stress based on different demographic characteristics of the respondents. The respondents were asked several queries ranging from their personal particulars such as age, gender, marital status, number of children, type of family, namely, whether nuclear or joint as also questions regarding their income and educational backgrounds. Thereafter, their stress levels as perceived in the lockdown period was measured by analysing their responses to a set of questions.
According to the authors of the study, this survey is the first attempt to measure the psychological consequences this pandemic is having in India.
It shows that respondents in the age group of 16 to 35 years perceive higher stress by 3.5 units when compared with those in the age group of 36 to 55 years and 4.1 units when compared to those above 55 years of age. The diagram below shows the stress distribution across three groups.
However, there is no difference in the perceived stress by age groups of 36 to 55 and those above 55 years.
“This is extremely interesting as this goes against the common assumption that the most vulnerable to the coronavirus which is the elderly would be more worried and stressed. The study revealed the opposite and this can be attributed to the fact that the younger populace appears to be more concerned about uncertainties in terms of their careers and financial future,” said Pamidi.
With respect to gender the study found that females reported higher perceived stress of 20.3 units when compare to males who reported mean stress of 17.7 units.
This may be attributed to the fact that during the lockdown, females have to work not only at home but many also work from home. However, this finding is equally applicable to homemakers as well.
Respondents with family income below Rs 12 lakh reported higher perceived stress by 1.6 units when compared with respondents with family income between Rs 12 lakh and Rs 24 lakh and 2.7 units higher when compared with respondents with family income above Rs 24 lakh. However, the difference in perceived stress is not significant between respondents in the Rs 12 lakh and Rs 24 lakh and above Rs 24 lakh category.
These indicate that the economic uncertainties due to COVID-19 has led to greater stress for people with lower incomes when compared with those with higher income.
In terms of educational stream, it was found that those with commerce stream report mean perceived stress of 20.5 units when compared with science stream with mean perceived stress of 17.6 units and engineering stream with mean perceived stress of 18.1 units.
This is an extremely interesting finding since it indicates that individuals with a science and engineering background appear to be less stressed about their future than their counterparts with a commerce background.
Pandey cautioned that the sample does not represent the people in the lowest rung of socio-economic strata hence generalizability to that population should be done with extreme caution.
The survey also finds
------ Females perceived stress of 20.3 units against 17.7 units of stress perceived by males.
------ People with family income of Rs 12 lakh reported higher perceived stress as compared to above family incomes
------ Commerce stream students are more stressed compared to science and engineering stream students.