Life Happens. And When It Does, Health and Wealth Are More Connected Than You Might Think, Fidelity Research Reveals

Some Life Events Have a Surprising Impact on Well-Being

Exercise and Paying Off Debt Can Have Big Benefits

There’s an Unequal Impact on Women, Generation X

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–What’s going on in people’s lives? In most cases, it’s a lot. This year,
the average person will most likely experience four life events such as
starting a new job, caring for a family member, buying a new house or
having a child1. For better or worse, these events impact
many other aspects of life and reveal a strong connection between health
and wealth, key indicators of a person’s total well-being.

To find out how some of the most common life events impact total
well-being, Fidelity collaborated with the Stanford
Center on Longevity
and surveyed more than 9,000 employees to
understand how those events affected a person’s health and wealth, as
well as their overall happiness and career.

“From the life events we analyzed, the top two things you can do to
improve your well-being are to pay off debt and start exercising,” said Jeanne
, senior vice president of Thought Leadership, Fidelity
Investments. “On the other hand, we found taking on debt and
experiencing a reorganization at work can have the biggest negative
impact on your overall sense of well-being.”

“This research reinforces that a key component of living long and living
well is about navigating life events that can impact a person’s
finances, health, career, overall happiness and ultimately their overall
well-being, conclusions supported by the Stanford Center on Longevity’s
own Sightlines
,” said Tamara Sims PhD, director of the Stanford Center on
Longevity Sightlines Project.

Here are five common life events that have significant and wide-ranging
impact on a person’s total well-being:

Debt can harm your wallet and your health

Taking on credit card debt or a consumer loan is part of life for many
people. While the financial impact is clear, it also negatively impacts
health, especially for women.

Nearly 70 percent2 of women indicated taking on debt led to
higher stress levels, compared to 47 percent of men, 36 percent of women
sleep worse (21 percent of men), 34 percent of women gained weight (17
percent of men) and 29 percent of women were less active (12 percent of

On the flipside, paying off debt has a major impact on overall
happiness, especially for women: fifty-nine percent2 of women
reported paying off debt made them happier, compared to 50 percent of
men, 62 percent of women indicated their lives were improved (53 percent
of men), and 44 percent of women reported lower stress levels (37
percent of men).

Exercise gets other parts of your life in shape

Starting or stopping an exercise routine has an extraordinary impact on
well-being. Starting to exercise consistently is one of the most
positive actions one can make, with clear benefits to a person’s health,
life and career. Unfortunately, twice as many people said they had stopped
exercising; and for them, there’s an opposite effect.


Starting an exercise routine2

        Stopping an exercise routine2
56% feel less stressed         55% feel more stressed
71% are happier         69% are less happy
38% are more motivated at work         20% are less motivated at work

“Boomerang kids” returning home bring stress and dissatisfaction

Adult children who move back home is a common event − one in nine Boomer3
parents surveyed said their kids returned “to the nest” in the past
year. And it’s taking a toll: 68 percent2 of parents reported
they are more stressed, and more than half said they are less happy (53
percent), less satisfied (54 percent) and have less leisure time (53

Those new housemates come at a cost: 76 percent2 of parents
said they face higher expenses. The health impacts are significant for
women, as 46 percent reported sleeping worse and 40 percent reported
gaining weight.

Reorganization at work: Widespread event, wide-ranging impact

Thirty percent of people surveyed had a reorganization at work in the
past year and more employees cited reorganizations as the most
significant life event than any other life event in the survey.
Reorganizations had negative impacts on each area of well-being, with 64
percent2 of people reporting feeling less happy and 30
percent feeling worse about their finances. Women and Millennials4
reported significant negative impacts: 49 percent of Millennials
reported losing sleep and 63 percent of women had lower career
satisfaction after a reorganization.

Becoming a caregiver has far-reaching effects for women

The health impact of being a caregiver is significant for everyone but
the burden is highest for Boomer women − one in four reported taking on
the caregiving role for a sick or elderly family member in the past
year. Seventy-eight percent2 of women indicated they are more
stressed, compared to 66 percent of men, 50 percent of women slept worse
(33 percent of men), 43 percent of women gained weight from being a
caregiver (22 percent of men), and 42 percent of women stopped
exercising (32 percent of men). There is also a financial impact:
thirty-seven percent of women report saving less after becoming a
caregiver (26 percent of men).

Across life events, Gen X5 is in the

Which generation has experienced the most negative impact on well-being
from life events? Gen X. They are the new “sandwich generation,” trying
to raise kids, save for college, pay off debt and care for aging
parents, all while trying to save for retirement and health care. The
study revealed 65 percent2 of Gen Xers had a life event that
negatively impacted their well-being versus 60 percent of Boomers and 57
percent of Millennials.

What it all means:

“The study reveals that a sense of well-being isn’t always about who you
are, how old you are or how much you make but it has more to do with the
moments in your life that matter. Two people with the same basic
demographic profile could be at very different places in their lives and
need different help to support their finances, health and happiness,”
said Thompson. “The good news is that most employers offer a wide array
of benefits to help employees navigate life, everything from retirement
and health care, to financial wellness and Employee Assistance Programs.
The challenge is many don’t take advantage of the full range of benefits
offered. A critical part for employers is understanding how life events
impact a person’s total well-being and engaging employees with the right
benefit to the right person at the right time.”

To learn more:

Fidelity podcast
takes an in-depth look at the research and how
people can better understand the impact of life events.

Around managing debt, Fidelity’s MyMoney
is an educational site with videos, calculators, infographics, and
articles geared for those experiencing many financial firsts. And for
contains helpful Viewpoints articles for adult children such as “Time
to take away the financial keys?”

About Fidelity Investments

Fidelity’s mission is to inspire better futures and deliver better
outcomes for the customers and businesses we serve. With assets under
administration of $6.0 trillion, including managed assets of $2.2
trillion as of March 31, 2017, we focus on meeting the unique needs of a
diverse set of customers: helping more than 26 million people invest
their own life savings, 23,000 businesses manage employee benefit
programs, as well as providing more than 12,500 financial advisory firms
with investment and technology solutions to invest their own clients’
money. Privately held for 70 years, Fidelity employs 45,000 associates
who are focused on the long-term success of our customers. For more
information about Fidelity Investments, visit

Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC
900 Salem
Street, Smithfield, RI 02917

© 2017 FMR LLC. All rights reserved.

1 Fidelity Investments Life Decisions Research. In-depth
interviews in Boston and Dallas (May 2016), and survey of 9,000+ DC plan
participants recordkept by Fidelity and who are employed full time.
Survey conducted October 2016 by Greenwald & Associates, Inc., an
independent third-party research firm and in collaboration with the
Stanford Center on Longevity on the study. Scores derived from summing
scales of positive minus negative ratings divided by 10.
Sentiments of survey participants who said the event was the most
impactful event over the past 12 months.
3 Boomers are
defined as those born between 1946 – 1964, based on research from the
Pew Research Center
4 Millennials are defined as those
born between 1981 – 1997, based on research from the Pew Research Center
Generation X is defined as those born between 1965 – 1980, based on
research from the Pew Research Center


Fidelity Investments
Corporate Communications
Ericson, 410-571-0161
us on Twitter @FidelityNews