RETIRE – Even with the insulation of a long-term investment, retirement worries are up. Forty-nine percent are not confident they will have adequate assets for retirement, higher than it's been in polling back to 1999.
Still, that's more a function of economic anxiety overall than of the market per se. Because they're better off in the first place, people with stock investments are more confident in their retirement resources than people without stocks, by 51 percent to 33 percent. And confidence is 16 points higher among those who own stock directly rather than through mutual funds, 61 percent to 45 percent -- again because they're better off in the first place.
RISK – Majorities have rated the market as "risky" going back to 1988, though it's spiked during bear markets. After the 1997 crash 69 percent called the market risky; that fell to 52 percent during the dot-com boom in 1999, but rose to 80 percent in July 2002 after accounting scandals and a market adjustment. At 79 percent it's essentially returned to that peak.
Those not invested in the market are 11 points more likely than investors to call it a risky place to put their money; 86 percent say so. That drops to its lowest among individual stock owners, but among them still 69 percent see the market as risky -- even while they're directly in it.
WORRIES – Worries over the economy, personal finances and the stock market have risen in the last few weeks. Sharpest has been the rise in those very worried about the stock market, up 15 points to 48 percent. High-level worry about the economy overall is up 8 points, to 48 percent; as noted, fewer, 23 percent, are very worried about their own family's finances, and that's essentially unchanged.
Those who have checked their investment portfolio are more worried about the economy, the stock market and to a lesser degree their own finances. What's not clear is whether they're worried because they checked -- or they checked because they're worried.
METHODOLOGY:This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 10-11, 2008, among a random sample of 517 adults. Results have a 4.5-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.