The Cohabiting Elderly, Avid-But-Angry Golfers, Etc. takes

If you could be born today in any country of your choice, would you pick someplace other than the U.S.? If so, you’re in a small minority of Americans. A survey by NFO WorldGroup found 83 percent saying they’d choose to be born in this country. Australia (6 percent) and Canada (3 percent) picked up much of the remaining preferences.

When you see the phrase “unmarried couple living together,” you probably picture a pair of young folks. But the cohabitation trend is catching on with old folks, too. A recent Associated Press article noted Census data showing “at least 112,000 households headed by someone 65 and older with an unmarried partner.” It quotes a sociologist who speculates the number is higher, since over-65s may be reticent about confessing they’re “shacking up.” And it’s likely to rise as the elderly population increases. One suspects it’s bad form in such households for the man to adopt ’60s-cohabitation slang and call his partner “my old lady.”

There’s an old saying that if you look like your passport photo, it means you’re much too ill to be traveling. An ad for the Denver Zoo (via McClain Finlon of that city) picks up on this sentiment. With its African rhinos, Asian elephants and Australian lorikeets, a jaunt to the zoo is “like traveling the world without the unflattering passport photo.”

This helps explain why golf equipment is a big business. In a Golf Magazine poll of avid golfers (defined as those who play 25-plus rounds per year), 16 percent confessed to having broken at least one club in anger. One percent said they’d taken out their anger on seven or more clubs. Elsewhere in the survey (conducted in conjunction with the National Golf Foundation), 68 percent said they’d rather play with their spouse than with their boss. Many golfers obsess about the game, with 29 percent saying they think about it several times a day when they’re not playing. On the other hand, a majority of them manage to keep things in perspective. Thus, “69 percent of you said a great day with the family made you happiest, while 29 percent said a great round of golf made you happiest.” Few of the respondents dwell on the negative:84 percent said a great round stays in their thoughts longer than a terrible round.

If you get fewer than five spam e-mails per day, consider yourself lucky. Asked how many spams they get on a typical day, 28 percent of respondents to a CNN.com online poll said “more than 20.” Another 21 percent get 10-20, while 28 percent receive 5-10. Just 23 percent said they get fewer than five of the e-missives per day.

They’re old enough to have money to spend on music, yet young enough to know which bands are cool. That may account for one finding of a poll conducted by The Integer Group among recent college graduates. Respondents were given five choices—music, sports they enjoy, clothing, TV shows and the beer they drink—and asked to say which of these most reflects their “personal image.” Music won a plurality of the vote (36 percent), easily beating sports (18 percent), clothing (12 percent) and TV shows (10 percent). Respondents gave the fewest votes to the beer they drink (9 percent), a particularly poor showing when one notes that the polling was conducted in bars.

Honors this week for Best Use of a Dress That Looks Like a Frozen Dessert goes to an ad for Prescriptives Super Line Preventor. In a category that takes itself far too seriously, the dress introduces a welcome note of playfulness. It also matches up well with the alliterative motto (delivered in tiny type under the photo), “intuitive intelligent individual.” The ad was created in-house.

Although health experts link obesity to various cancers, consumers remain oblivious to the connection. In a study commissioned by the American Institute for Cancer Research, just 6 percent of respondents cited obesity/overweight when asked to name major risk factors for cancer. Likewise, while89 percent said obesity/overweight raises one’s chances of getting heart disease and 86 percent linked it to diabetes, 25 percent said it raises one’s odds of getting cancer.

One nice thing about the wreck of new-economy companies: It can make stodgy old-economy companies look good by comparison. We see something of this in a J.D. Power and Associates study on customer satisfaction with large electric utilities. The “company image” component of customer satisfaction improved “as customers rate the industry higher on attributes such as ‘being honest and ethical.’ ”

Elsewhere on the silver-lining front, a bulletin from the University of Michigan says the stock market’s decline could make people better at saving. Describing the views of Richard Curtin, director of the university’s Surveys of Consumers, it notes that while the crash of 1987 “had a minor and short-lived impact on consumer confidence, it sparked an increase in the personal savings rate of 1.4 percentage points over thefollowing 18 months.” The semi-crash of recent weeks could yield a similar effect.