At What Age Are You Old?

“30 IS THE NEW 20”

A very good question that is food for thought! Have you ever heard that “30 is the new 20,” or some variation of the expression, but with different numbers? This expression, often made in jest, would seem to imply that as we age, the further away old age seems. But is this true? Since we are curious, we decided to ask Canadians to find out for sure, by polling them on their perception of old age.

The question was as follows: “At what age are you old?”

This Leger poll was conducted from April 7 to April 9, 2019, with a representative sample of 1,411 Canadians. The margin of error is 2.6%.*For comparison purposes, for a probability sample.

The results below reveal that in some ways, the expression is true. We have observed a significant trend: from a generational perspective, we note that the age of respondents moves in the same direction as the age that they consider to be “old,” i.e., upwards. Thus, the older we are, the more we consider “old age” to be a distant concept. Millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) are more likely to think that we are old at 50, while on average, baby boomers will only consider themselves to be elderly at nearly 80. The older you get, the younger you feel. Therefore, the concept of old age does not seem to be imminent. Statistics also show that 23% of the Canadian population feels that we are old between 65 and 74 years of age, and 26% of Canadians tend to feel that the first signs of old age appear a decade later, i.e., between 75 and 84 years of age. Nonetheless, the national average is 68 years of age. When we think of this, it makes sense.

LIFE EXPECTANCY IN CANADA AND THE AGING POPULATION

Some people don’t like to be reminded of their age as they get old. Some would say that when you are healthy, and you feel capable of living without having to restrict your activities and your lifestyle, there is nothing to feel old about.

One of the important factors to consider when we talk about our perception of age and old age is, of course, life expectancy. Indeed, women in Canada currently live to 84 years and men live to 79.9 years – this has increased on average by 0.2 years per year between 1990 and 2012, and 0.1 years per year between 2013 and 2016 (Statistics Canada). It is therefore normal that people’s perception of old age changes over time, since we live to be much older…

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