Choosing the Best Years in People’s Lives

It turns out youth isn’t wasted on the young—at least, not in the sense that they fail to enjoy being young. If anything, one might say oldness is wasted on the old. We draw these inferences from a survey conducted for Adweek by Alden & Associates Marketing Research of Hermosa Beach, Calif. Adults were asked to choose the age they think is generally the best time of people’s lives. Overall, 25.8 percent picked the 20s as the best phase of life, with the 30s (20.1 percent) edging out the 40s (18.6 percent) as runner-up. The teenage years came in a distant fourth (13.6 percent), a shade ahead of the 1-12-year-old bracket (12.0 percent). Just 7.2 percent picked the 50s, while a grand total of 2.7 percent said life is best at age 60 or older. Up to a point, people tend to think most highly of the age bracket they’re in at present. Thus, 47.8 percent of 18-24-year-olds picked the 20s as the best time in life; 25-34-year-olds split the majority of their vote between the 20s (37.6 percent) and the 30s (21.5 percent); respondents age 35-49 gave more than half their votes to the 40s (26.5 percent) or the 30s (24.7 percent). Among 50-64-year-olds, though, just 16.3 percent picked the 50s as best, while 0.8 percent chose the 60-or-older phase. Among respondents who are 65 and up, 13.7 percent picked the 60-and-older years. Few respondents in any age group picked a time in life that’s older than their own right now. For example, fewer than 10 percent of 18-24-year-olds said life is best anytime after age 29; fewer than 5 percent of 25-34-year-olds chose any time older than the 30s. Among other findings in the survey: The pre-teen years were most popular among respondents who are currently age 25-34, with 20.4 percent of them choosing that phase of life. The teenage years scored most strongly among 18-24-year-olds (29.5 percent). Respondents in every other age cohort were more likely to pick pre-teen life over teen life.