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Abstract

It has long been known that stressful states are linked to physical and mental health. An important dimension of emotional stress is community environment. That is, communities can produce stress in individuals but can also provide the coping resources that help modify these stressors. We examined differences in stress responses among a random sample of 900 elderly living in nine metropolitan and nine non-metropolitan, randomly chosen communities in six northeastern states. Respondents were asked if, in the past year, they had experienced anything upsetting or stressful in their lives connected with family and friends, their health, and their finances. The findings support the existence of community differences in stress responses for these elderly respondents, and show evidence of a link between community structure and individual behaviors.