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AARP Bulletin Survey on Gas Prices

Given the recent increases in gas prices, the AARP Bulletin commissioned a nationwide survey in April 2011 to examine the extent to which rising gas prices have caused financial hardship for Americans and to explore how Americans have modified their lifestyles.  

Key findings include:

  • More than two in three (68%) adults age 18+ expect that they will have to pay five dollars or more for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline sometime this year.
  • Nearly six in ten (58%) adults age 18+ indicate that the price of gasoline has caused financial hardship for themselves or their household.  Of those who reported experiencing financial hardship due to the rising gas prices, more than a quarter (28%) describe the hardship as “severe.”
  • When asked whether they had made seven possible lifestyle modifications as a result of the rising gas prices, respondents were most likely to report they had limited their daily driving (66%).  Other lifestyle modifications reported by more than half of respondents included limiting travel or vacations (60%), reducing spending in other areas (59%), reducing saving (54%), and reducing visits with family and friends (51%).   
  • Those who indicated that they had reduced spending in other areas to offset higher gas prices were asked to identify the areas in which these spending reductions had occurred.   Dining out proved to be the most common target for spending reductions. Other popular targets for spending reductions included entertainment and clothing.

The survey was conducted for AARP by Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS)  using its telephone omnibus survey service.   For the general sample, interviews were conducted from April 27 through May 1, 2011, among a nationally representative sample of 1,012 respondents 18 years of age or older.   Interviews with Hispanic and Latino respondents continued through May 17, 2011 for a total of 400 interviews with Hispanics and Latinos. The report provides results for the general sample as well as the Hispanic sample and compares general sample results to those from a similar survey conducted in 2007.  The report also compares responses from adults age 18-49 to those age 50+.  For more information, please contact S. Kathi Brown at skbrown@aarp.org.

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