Women are somewhat more scared than men about what might happen at home if they experienced a disabling illness or injury.
Lisa Schneider of Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Washington, and Mary Quist-Newins of the American College, Bryn Mawr, Pa., have published data supporting that observation in a summary of results from a survey of 1,600 U.S. women and 800 U.S. men ages 25 to 64. The participants interviewed had an annual household income of at least $35,000.
Like other researchers who've done similar studies, Schneider and Quist-Newins found that Americans, including women, know less than people who develop disability insurance surveys about disability and disability insurance.
The researchers found, for example, that men and women were about equally like to be ignorant about the likelihood that a 20-year-old who goes to work today will be to suffer a disability before retirement. Only 36% of the women surveyed and 33% of the men knew that the actuaries now project that the likelihood is 26%.
The researchers also found that the women survey were more likely -- but not vastly more likely -- to express concern about what would happen in their homes if they themselves became disabled.
The researchers found, for example, that 31% of the men thought a family member or friend would be able to provide any caregiving needed, and 23% of the men said a family member or friend would be able to take over the men's household duties.
About 26% of the women said they thought a family member or friend would be able to provide caregiving, and 26% said they thought a family member or friend would be able to take over their household duties.
Men and women were skeptical about the idea that their families could pay someone to handle the household chores that would be left undone as the result of the disability.
Only 11% of the men said they thought their families could afford to pay outsiders to handle the household tasks they now perform.
Only 7% of the women said they thought their families could afford to pay for others to handle they household tasks they've been doing.
The researchers found that wives appear to think more highly about their contributions to household finances than husbands think about wives' contributions.
About 53% of the wives surveyed said they thought that, if they became disabled, the effects on their household finances would be somewhat or totally devastating.
Only 32% of the husbands surveyed said they thought their household finances would be somewhat or totally devastated if their wives became disabled.
When the researchers asked married people about the likely impact of the husband becoming disabled on household finances, 53% of the husbands and 61% of the wives said they thought the effects of the husband's disability would be somewhat or totally devastating.