Adults under 35 are more likely than older adults to report negative feelings or experience physical or emotional symptoms associated with stress and anxiety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC).
The report, which is part of the university’s COVID Response Tracking Study, found that 56 percent of Americans ages 18-34 say they have at least sometimes felt isolated in the past month, compared with about 40 percent of older Americans.
Additionally, 25 percent of young adults in the study rated their mental health as “fair or poor,” compared to only 13 percent among older adults.
The Associated Press reported Friday that some of the findings in the study could be attributed to young adults undergoing major life changes in the past few months, such as starting college, finding jobs, navigating their adult life in an economic downturn sparked by COVID-19.
The economic fallout from the coronavirus continues, with the Department of Labor reporting Thursday that while new weekly claims for unemployment benefits stayed flat last week when adjusted for seasonal factors, they rose by more than 20,000 on an unadjusted basis.
Tom Smith, the director for NORC’s General Social Survey, told the wire service that another explanation for the higher rates of stress could be young adults having less experience dealing with a public health crisis.
Smith, 71, explained he grew up being told not to play in the dirt because of the risk of contracting polio.
“This experience facing a pandemic is completely new for most younger adults,” Smith said.