Longevity's Gift: A Second Middle Age

By Lydia Bront, Carnegie Corporation of New York

December 1995 | Issue # 45

Increasing human longevity in this century has led to many changes in the viewpoints and life situations of the beneficiaries of this development — older persons. In this issue, researcher Lydia Brontë describes the findings of her recent five-year study of 150 individuals, ages 65 to 102, who have continued to work, create, and thrive, regardless of chronological age. Popular wisdom has held that adult life follows an invariable track, with expectations of old age and retirement in the mid-60s and an inevitable downhill slide after that. This work suggests that advancing longevity has created a new stage of healthy adulthood between the ages of 50 and 75 — a “second middle age” — and that the extra gift of time has created a new pattern of adult life — the “long career.”

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