Study: Indian Women Are the Most Stressed on Earth

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Babu / Reuters

A factory worker in Sriperumbudur Taluk, in the Kancheepuram district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu

As women around the world enjoy broader opportunities and expanding roles, they’re also experiencing one other increase in their lives — stress.

In one of their latest reports, Women of Tomorrow, Nielsen released stats that revealed where the most stressed-out women in the world reside, and how they behave in consequence.

Nielsen’s study, which was conducted from February to April of 2011, polled almost 6,500 women throughout 21 developed and emerging countries including those in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa, and North America. The study was done in an effort to better understand women’s consumer habits, but yielded some fascinating conclusions about what causes stress in women around the world.

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Reuters also finds that women around the world were largely more stressed than those of the past, but also found that women in emerging economic and social markets were more stressed than those in developed countries. “While women in emerging markets see tremendous growth in the opportunities for their daughters, a plateau of hope is evident in developed countries,” said Susan Whiting, Nielsen’s vice chair, in a statement.

The results of the polls showed that an astounding 87% of Indian women claim feeling stressed most of the time, with an additional 82% asserting they had insufficient time to relax.

Here are the top 10 most stressed countries, at least for women. The percentages indicate the percentage of women claiming to be stressed most of the time. (See a longer list at CNN.)

India (87%)
Mexico (74%)
Russia (69%)
Brazil (67%)
Spain (66%)
France (65%)
South Africa (64%)
Italy (64%)
Nigeria (58%)
Turkey (56%)

Another interesting finding correlated degree of stress with spending and consuming habits. Interestingly, Indian women, while claiming to be the most stressed, were also most likely to spend disposable income on themselves. Upwards of three quarters of Indian women admitted they would spend on beauty and health items, while 96% said they would buy clothing.

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“Women are increasing their spending power, and with that they gain more control and influence over key household decisions,” Whiting explains.

One explanation may rest in what would seem to be clearly evolving work patterns to which societal and family structures have yet to adapt, a reality leaving women responsible for both the pursuit of a modern career and a traditional home life.

And add to that a study conducted (originally reported by the Telegraph) which found that women, biologically speaking, are more vulnerable to stress than men.

In the study, conducted by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, found that the brains of females are more sensitive to hormones produced at times of angst and thought to be involved in stress management. “Although more research is certainly necessary to determine whether this translates to humans, this may help to explain why women are twice as vulnerable as men to stress-related disorders,” study leader Rita Valentino told the Telegraph.

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