03 March 2010

Extended Lives = Extended Childhood

George Will writes about boys who won't become men in this week's Newsweek. George decries the fact that the median age at which boys marry or leave home is going up. He makes some good points but misses the context of extended boyhood: we're living longer.

Life expectancy goes up about 3 months a year. This works out to about 2.5 years per decade or about 5 to 7 years per generation.

So, let's say that we still left home and married at 14, as people did only a century or so ago when life expectancy was about 40-some years. Is that really how much preparation we want them to have for work and parenting? Do we expect 14 year olds to choose who they'll be married to at 85?

If the next generation gets married two years later than their dads and then retires four years later than their dads, they'll still end up married and retired for longer than their dads. That is what happens when life expectancy goes up each generation.

It is not just old age that now lasts longer. So does youth. That life stages - from youth to middle age to old age - would all extend for longer as life itself lasts longer makes every kind of sense to me. But I guess saying that wouldn't make for a very interesting column.

3 comments:

Big Al said...

Ron, have you been talking to Val again? She swears I'm still in my 'extended childhood' years.

Thomas said...

George Will is just a cranky old man who's been harping on the "Just Grow Up!" theme for years.

I remember when Jerry Garcia died Will wrote a scathing column lambasting him for never having "grown up." My thought at the time was "Thank God he didn't!"

I think I would rather grow up to be like Jerry Garcia than George Will. I think Jerry had a lot more fun.

nunya said...

Some men never grow up.