Recent research show individuals in lower socioeconomic groups, as measured by level of education, report fewer stressful days than those with higher socioeconomic status, but their stress is more severe and has a larger impact on their health. While those with more education have more days of stress, they are not as affected by it.
For the study, more than 1,000 adults were interviewed daily for eight days, and their stressors were ranked on the degree of severity. Adults with a college degree reported stress 44 percent of the days, those with a high school degree and/or some college schooling reported stress on 38 percent of the days, and high-school dropouts experienced stressors on 30 percent of the days.
Researchers examined why less advantaged people report less daily stress, when previous research indicated they experience more acute stress. They say, "If something happens every day, maybe it's not seen as a stressor -- maybe it is just life." Lower status individuals may become desensitized to daily hassles due to their cumulative disadvantages and hardships, while this persistent stress negatively affects their health.
Thus researchers say there is a well-documented link between higher levels of stress and decreased physical and mental health and they say that in the future they intend looking at the impact of all three types of stressors -- acute, chronic and daily -- and their role in socioeconomic inequalities in health.