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What's the 'Perfect' Age?

If you could skip through time and live forever at a certain point in life, what age would it be? Given our traditionally youth-obsessed culture and penchant for nostalgia, you might guess that most Americans would choose to be perpetual teenagers.

First Lady Michelle Obama

Well, guess again. According to a new Harris poll, Americans overall consider the ideal age to be 50. Just a decade ago, the average respondents pegged the perfect age as 41.

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In another blow to the stereotype of Americans being youth-obsessed, Harris also found an interesting pattern: younger respondents wanted to be a little older than they are now, while middle-aged and older Americans tended to be pretty much content with their current age bracket. For those between the ages of 18 and 36, for example, the perfect age was 38. But Generation Xers, between the ages of 37 and 48, picked 49 as the perfect age. Boomers (ages 49 to 67) liked age 55, which is right smack in the middle of their group, and those 68 and older picked 67 as the ideal age to be.

Even more intriguingly, women - who, according to sexist stereotypes, are supposedly sensitive about their ages - said that their perfect age was 53. Men picked 47 as the perfect age.

And the ideal retirement age, according to those polled? It was 61, which happens actually to be the average retirement age, according to a Gallup poll taken earlier this year. People 68 and older, however, settled on 64 as the perfect retirement age.

But if 50 is the perfect age to be, 2014 should be a pretty good year for an assortment of celebrities who'll hit the half-century mark in 2014, including:

  • First lady Michelle Obama
  • Mariska Hargitay, who plays detective Oliva Benson on the NBC television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
  • Eddie Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam
  • Jeff Bezos, the founder of and new owner of the Washington Post.


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