It might not be what you think.
Sure, ghosts, aliens, Bigfoot and, yes, even clowns make the list, depending on a person’s age. About one third of young people — 18-34 — believe in ghosts, while just 18 percent of those 50 and older believe in the supernatural figures. Perhaps that’s one reason Halloween ranks as such a popular holiday. What about aliens? Nearly twice as many young people believe in aliens — 27 percent — as the 14 percent of those 50 and older who believe in the creatures, according to Public Policy Polling research by the University of Texas at Austin for AARP. The same report said 22 percent of young people believe in Bigfoot — the huge, hairy varmint living in the Pacific Northwest — while just 12 percent of their older brethren believe in its existence.
And let’s not even get started on those who fear clowns.
Seniors and other older Americans clearly are spook-able, but what phenomena really get them quaking?
Snakes top the list, followed by fear of running out of money and going broke. Those are legitimate concerns. People 50 and older likely are more pragmatic because the research also showed people become more religious as they get older. The more spiritual mind set explains why 68 percent of older Americans believe in heaven and 57 percent believe in angels, while those in the younger age groups are about 10 percent less likely to believe in those.
And while many people — young and old — are scared to die, the fear of outliving their assets is an even bigger concern for older Americans. Running out of money, whether it be in savings, investments or other retirement accounts, is a real fear every day of the year — not just at Halloween. Growing medical costs and the government’s economic and political instability only add to that unease.
Having enough money to cover basic living expenses is a daily concern for many Americans. Having a sufficient nest egg for retirement is an equally weighty and scary issue. Halloween ghosts and goblins are less scary in comparison, providing reason enough to celebrate the least spooky of frightening experiences among us.
— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher