Weekly Grooves

Redefining Old Age

September 4, 2020

Nathan Yau, the head of the FlowingData.com blog site, wrote a piece called “Redefining Old Age” where he explores our changing definition and understanding of what it means to be old. The article starts by looking at various definitions of old age and reminds the reader that the average person’s life expectancy has dramatically increased since the 1930s.  

Kurt and Tim dissect this topic through a behavioral science lens wondering how old age gets redefined when (a) we live so much longer and (b) the psychological and social implications are so different today than they were even two decades ago.

Nathan does an excellent job of reporting the facts in his article and there are three important ones to call out. First, the definition of old age is often dependent upon who you ask. It can start with “Anyone with white hair and glasses” to “About 10-15 years before I expect to die.” The second is that the World Health Organization notes that “old age” is highly dependent on living in a developed country or not. 

The third call-out is that less than 100 years ago, in 1930, only 50% of males and 57% of females made it to the ripe old age of 65. Today, the average life expectancy of males is 77 and females is over 81 years old. That is an enormous change in such a short period of time.

Finally, the article has some very cool graphs that highlight the supporting documentation and we encourage you to check it out. You might even become a fan of FlowingData.com, which gets our enthusiastic support.

Thanks for listening and keep on grooving.

© 2020 Weekly Grooves



Redefining Old Age: https://flowingdata.com/2020/08/26/redefining-old-age/?utm_source=join1440&utm_medium=email

Life Expectancy by Country: https://www.worldometers.info/demographics/life-expectancy/

Priming and the Psychology of Memory: https://www.verywellmind.com/priming-and-the-psychology-of-memory-4173092

Dan Buettner “Blue Zones”: https://www.bluezones.com/

Positive vs negative priming of older adult’s generative value: do negative messages impair memory?: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13607863.2016.1239063?journalCode=camh20

Look for new roles for older citizens in an aging America, says Stanford's Laura Carstensen: https://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/february/carstensen-older-americans-021712.html

Tim Urban - Your Life In Weeks: https://waitbutwhy.com/2014/05/life-weeks.html

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