If you could live forever at one particular age, what age would you choose? When The Harris Poll asked this question of a cross-section of 2,306 adults nationwide, the average age chosen was 41.
But that number is deceiving. There was absolutely no consensus of one ideal age with responses ranging from younger than 21 to older than 90. "Forty-one" is just an average of the answers. When broken down by gender, women chose 43 as the ideal age, while men chose 39.
There was a distinct pattern, though. Most people chose an ideal age that was fairly close to their current age. The exception is that once folks hit 50, the age they chose was younger. A small, but not insignificant, number of people choose remarkably old ages as the ideal. Fully one in 12, or 8 percent of the total sample, see 90 or older as the ideal age if you are healthy.
If you could stop time and live forever in good health at a particular age, at what age would you like to live? The median ages they chose:
- People 18 to 24 years chose 27
- People 25 to 29 years chose 31
- People 30 to 39 years chose 37
- People 40 to 49 years chose 40
- People 50 to 64 years chose 44
- People over 65 years chose 59
The age people chose as the ideal only seemed to be influenced by their current age and not whether they were rich or poor, African American, white, Hispanic, Republican, Democrat or independent, highly educated or not.
Why ask such a question? It was the idea of the distinguished social scientist Leo Bogart who said in a news release announcing the study findings, "People are living longer, with better health care and new medical advances. Yet most of us, until we reach middle age, would like to stay at our present age. American culture has always emphasized youth, but the elderly wouldn't want to go back to their twenties and almost no one wants to start life over again as a child or teenager. Most of us seem to be comfortable with where we are."