“You’re only as old as you feel”.   Ever hear that one?  There is much debate about youth and age in the country and culture.  In a drunken tweet Geraldo says 70 is the new 50.  Others say 50 is the new 30. 

How old are you and what is it that you are the new one of?  

We live in a youth-obsessed culture, fueled in part by Baby Boomers who refuse to grow old gracefully.   Which begs the question-At what age does 'middle age' begin?  Florida State University examined how people view the start and end of middle age reviewing waves of national data that examined how various factors influence people's views of the timing of middle age. The key findings:

  • Both women and men view the start and end of middle age as occurring earlier for women than for men, consistent with the argument that a "double standard of aging" exists that disadvantages women.
  • Younger adults tend to see middle age as occurring at younger ages than do older adults. In other words, as people grow older, they tend to see this life stage as occurring later.
  • People who are more socioeconomically disadvantaged or belong to racial or ethnic minority groups tend to view this stage as occurring earlier than do their peers.
  • Others likely to view middle age as occurring earlier include those in poor health, those who began families young, those who are divorced and those without living parents.

So just when does middle age begin and end? Though there's no hard data that clearly defines the bookends of mid-life, it seems we have a pretty good idea about when it's time to view our youth from the rear view mirror. Most people think middle age begins at 44 and ends at 60.