Doomsday prepper statistics
End times front of minds for around 45% of Americans.
Until recently you may have heard the term “doomsday preppers” and pictured a squirrely, Kaczynski-esque, person preparing for the end of days. But in the wake of a global pandemic, a time where even the simplest of items like toilet paper were conspicuously absent from the shelves, having a house stocked with sundries and staples seems logical. Perhaps that’s why the number of people prepping for doomsday more than doubled from the beginning of 2020 to the beginning of 2021, according to the latest survey from Finder.
In the last 12 months, roughly 45% of Americans — or about 115.6 million people — say they spent money preparing or spent money on survival materials. This is way up when compared to the previous year, which saw 20% of Americans (52 million people) spending money on survival materials.
How many Americans are prepared for survival?
In addition to the roughly 45% that bought survival supplies in the last year, with a further 27% of American adults (69 million) say they didn’t need to hit the stores because their homes already included survival items at the ready for an emergency.
Adding up the numbers, that’s roughly 72% of American adults (184.6 million adults) who are prepping for the end times, a dramatic increase from only 55% of American adults at the start of 2020.
|Response||% of Americans|
|Yes, because of political events as well as recent natural disasters||5.30%|
|Yes, because of recent natural disasters||5.36%|
|Yes, due to political events||9.43%|
|Yes, because of COVID||25.20%|
|No, because I always keep survival items in case of emergency||27.07%|
|No, because I don’t spend any money on emergency preparation||27.65%|
How much do our preppers spend?
Forget booby traps and escape chutes. Saving money is the No. 1 way people prepare for emergencies, with 20% of Americans saying they’ve socked away some $962 into an emergency fund in the last 12 months. This was actually down compared to the average amount people were saving in the previous survey, putting an average of $1,940 into an emergency fund in the last 12 months, but this may have been impacted by people having either less disposable income or having to dip into those emergency funds in the wake of COVID-19.
And in a sign of the times, 33.6% of preppers said they stockpiled toilet paper in the past year–no wonder there were toilet paper shortages!
Other big-ticket ways we’re preparing for the worst:
- Food and water— 41.6% of Americans spent an average of $258 on stockpiling their essential food and water supplies
- Home renovations — 18.0% of Americans spent an average of $530 renovating or making additions to their home.
- Means of evacuation— 11.6% of Americans spent an average of $317 preparing ways to escape, such as buying a car or boat.
- Medical expenses— 27.4% of Americans spent an average of $119 toward insurance premiums, doctor visits, prescriptions, assistive devices and more.
|Response||Average spent||% of Americans|
|Put into savings||$962||20.0%|
|Car, boat or other means of evacuation||$317||11.6%|
|Food and water||$258||41.6%|
|Self-defense classes or weapons||$172||10.3%|
How does preparing differ between men and women?
Men are more likely to prep for doomsday than women, with 51% of men admitting to buying survival materials in the past 12 months. Compare that to the 40% of women who admit to the same.
If we include those who’ve had their acts together by stockpiling ahead of time, the gap is a bit smaller, with more than 76% of men prepping for doomsday versus about 69% of women.
|Has purchased survival materials due to political events and natural disasters||6.01%||4.68%|
|Has purchased survival materials only because of natural disasters||6.88%||4.03%|
|Has purchased survival materials only because of political events||14.27%||5.22%|
|Has purchased survival materials only because of COVID||24.16%||26.12%|
|Always has survival items on hand in case of emergency||24.91%||28.94%|
|Doesn’t spend money on preparation||23.78%||31.01%|
Who’s spending more?
While men may be preparing for more, women outspend men in some areas. Women put more money into food and water supplies, home renovations, insurance, means of evacuations and self-defense, while men outspend women on survival kits, savings, medical supplies and survival courses. Men slightly outspent women on buying toilet paper
|Food and water||$242.05||$276.21||$258.15|
|Put into savings||$1,001.54||$893.42||$961.94|
|Car, boat and other means of evacuation||$279.67||$409.34||$316.62|
|Self-defense classes or weapons||$145.46||$240.90||$171.88|
Who would you picture being most prepared for a global doomsday? Not likely a millennial, and yet millennials make up the generation most equipped for doomsday, closely followed by Gen Z and Gen X.
Some 58.3% of millennials say they bought items in the last 12 months in preparation for disaster. Not only that, a further 19.4% admit to already having those supplies on hand. Other generations full of disaster preppers include Gen Z (77.4%) and Gen X (76.6%). In comparison, only 66.2% of baby boomers and 59.6% of the silent generation were prepared for disaster
|Generation||Has purchased survival materials only because of political events||Has purchased survival materials only because of natural disasters||Has purchased survival materials only because of COVID||Has purchased survival materials due to political events and natural disaster||Always has survival items on hand in case of emergency||Doesn’t spend money on preparation|
Which generation spends the most preparing for the worst?
Of all the categories, putting money into savings was the number one choice for every generation, with baby boomers spending the most on average at $1,525.03. Between the generations, millennials spent the most on survival kits ($107.63), survival courses ($144.80), and toilet paper ($66.34). Gen X spent the most on medical supplies ($139.95), while baby boomers spent the most on home renovations ($727.82), savings ($1,525.03), and means of evacuation ($937.62). The silent gen spent the most on food and water ($326.50), insurance ($649.04), and self-defense classes or weapons ($301.35).
|Categories||Gen Z||Millennial||Gen X||Baby boomers||Silent gen|
|Food and water||$227.82||$227.86||$262.36||$227.25||$326.50|
|Put into savings||$613.84||$981.85||$765.76||$1,525.03||$1,139.13|
|Car, boat and other means of evacuation||$297.50||$298.38||$155.20||$937.62||$6.13|
|Self-defense classes or weapons||$137.50||$214.75||$145.45||$144.78||$301.35|
Finder’s data is based on an online survey of 1,718 US adults born between 1928 and 2003 commissioned by Finder and conducted by Pureprofile in January 2021. Participants were paid volunteers.
We assume the participants in our survey represent the US population of 254.7 million Americans who are at least 18 years old according to the July 2019 US Census Bureau estimate. This assumption is made at the 95% confidence level with a 2.36% margin of error.
The survey asked people whether they’d spent money preparing for emergencies in the previous 12 months and how much they spent in 11 categories:
- Food and water
- Survival kits
- Home renovations
- Investment into savings account
- Medical supplies
- Means of evacuation – car, boat, etc.
- Survival courses
- Toilet paper
- Self-defense – classes or weaponry
We based average calculations of spending on participants who spent in that particular category and spent for doomsday preparation only — for example, to calculate the average amount spent on home renovation, we did not include the participants who selected that they did not spend on emergency/survival preparation in the past 12 months and those who responded “$0” for the amount spent on home renovation.
To avoid skewing the data, we also excluded extreme outliers from our calculations.
We define generations by birth year according to the Pew Research Center’s generational guidelines:
- Gen Z — 1997–2003
- Millennials — 1981–1996
- Gen X — 1965–1980
- Baby boomers — 1946–1964
- Silent generation — 1928–1945
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