Doomsday Preppers: Just how many of us are preparing for the worst?

Doomsday prepper statistics

More than 68 million American doomsday preppers are estimated to have purchased survival gear in light of recent political events or natural disasters.

Political unrest with North Korea, as well as hurricanes and other natural disasters, are a concern for many Americans gone out to purchase survival gear in preparation for doomsday.

We recently commissioned a survey of 2,000 Americans, conducted by global research provider Pureprofile, and found that an estimated 68 million–plus Americans — more than 1 in 4 — have purchased survival gear on the back of recent political events or natural circumstances beyond our control.

How many Americans are prepared for survival?

More than 160 million American adults (65.45%) are estimated to have either recently purchased survival gear or, interestingly, are already in possession of survival gear because they always keep them on hand. The remaining 85 million (34.55%) are not preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Of those who report prepping, 36.35% spent up to $400 on survival kits in the past 12 months.

How much do our preppers spend?

Our survey found that an estimate of more than 1 in 4 American adults spent up to $2,000 on home renovations to prepare for withstanding emergencies.

Other areas in which our preppers spent money to keep emergencies at bay include:

  • Insurance — 39.40% spent up to $2,000
  • Donations — 32.55% donated up to $400
  • Medical expenses — 37.65% spent up to $5,000

Perhaps as a result of the colossal amount Americans are spending on emergencies, we estimate that nearly half of American adults have squirreled up to $5,000 into savings to prepare for an emergency.

Who are our preppers?

Let’s take a look at the demographics of those estimated 68 million American preppers who’ve recently purchased survival gear.


Of those surveyed, 26.96% of women have recently purchased survival gear for either political or natural disaster reasons compared with 28.77% of men. But many people haven’t purchased survival gear because they always have it on hand — including 39.51% of the women and 35.61% of the men.

Women are slightly less likely than men to wing it in the event of a disaster, with 33.53% of women reporting they’ve resisted dropping money on preparation, compared with 35.61% of men. To prepare for a potential doomsday, an estimated 38.24% of women and 34.39% of men spent up to $400 on survival kits in the past 12 months.

Always has survival items on hand in case of an emergency39.51%35.61%
Doesn’t spend money on preparation33.53%35.61%
Has purchased survival materials due to recent political events and natural disasters5.59%7.14%
Has purchased survival materials solely because of recent natural disasters16.96%15.71%
Has purchased survival materials solely because of political events4.41%5.92%


When it comes to preparing for emergencies, men appear to be slightly more proactive than women, with an estimated 45.39% of women and 47.55% of men putting up to $5,000 into savings in the past 12 months. On the flip side, women seem to be the more generous gender, with 35.59% donating up to $400, compared with only 29.39% of males who’ve done the same.


Millennials lead the way in preparing for the worst, with 38.49% recently purchasing survival gear either because of political or natural disaster headlines. This is followed by Gen Xers at 31.40% and baby boomers at 17.31%.

From looking at those stats, it might appear as if baby boomers are the least prepared for a doomsday disaster. But perhaps the reason they haven’t recently purchased any survival gear is that a lot of them have long been preparing for it: Baby boomers lead the way (41.28%) in terms of those who haven’t recently purchased survival gear because they already have it on hand. They’re followed by Gen Xers at 37.07% and millennials at 32.79%.

Even so, when it comes to prepping overall, baby boomers might not be as prepared as other generations, with 41.41% saying they don’t spend any money on prepping. Meanwhile, 31.53% of Gen Xers and 28.72% of millennials would be unprepared in the face of a disaster scenario.

In the past 12 months, millennials (48.07%) are more than twice as likely than baby boomers (23.57%) to have spent up to $400 on survival kits. Gen Xers come in at 41.42%.

Baby boomerGen XMillennial
Always has survival items on hand in case of an emergency41.28%37.07%32.79%
Doesn’t spend money on preparation41.41%31.53%28.72%
Has purchased survival materials due to political events and recent natural disasters4.13%8.18%6.92%
Has purchased survival materials solely because of recent natural disasters11.45%17.28%22.40%
Has purchased survival materials solely because of political events1.73%5.94%9.16%


How is each generation spending on emergencies?

Compared with other generations, a smaller proportion of baby boomers appears to spend money on emergencies — whether in preparation for survival or as a reaction to headlines. Hands down, millennials lead the way in spending on home renovations, insurance, savings, donations and medical expenses.

Baby boomerGen XMillennial
Up to $2,000 on home renovations18.24%30.21%32.38%
Up to $2,000 on insurance33.82%40.63%46.03%
Up to $5,000 put into savings38.75%48.02%55.80%
Donated up to $40026.90%32.59%41.14%
Up to $5,000 on medical expenses32.76%39.45%42.36%


Household income

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the likelihood of someone spending money on survival gear appears to increase with household income. Of those with a household income of up to $25,000 a year, an estimated 2 in 5 (40.43%) won’t spend any money on survival gear. In comparison, only 1 in 4 (24.59%) people with a household income of $100,000 to $150,000 didn’t spend any money on survival gear.

What is the emergency money going toward?

We break down the proportion of each household income group that spent money on survival kits, home renos, insurance, savings, donations or medical expenses.

Household incomeSurvival kitsHome renovationsInsuranceSavingsDonationsMedical expenses
$0 to $25,00034.26%20.00%32.77%37.23%25.11%33.19%
$25,001 to $50,00040.76%28.32%42.66%48.88%37.31%38.17%
$50,001 to $75,00041.98%36.08%47.17%58.49%42.69%43.63%
$75,001 to $100,00045.38%37.82%50.84%66.81%47.06%44.54%
$100,001 to $150,00042.08%39.34%47.54%61.75%50.82%39.89%


Jennifer McDermott

Consumer advocate helping people improve their personal finances.

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