It’s been said that life begins at 40, but it might be more accurate to say that mid-life begins at 40.
A British government poll has revealed that the age at which we should stop calling ourselves young is 40 years, eight months and two weeks.
More surprisingly, the Britons surveyed believe that old age begins at 59 years, two months and two weeks.
The poll, for the Department for Work and Pensions, spoke to 2,171 people aged 16 or over and uncovered stark variations in the views of men and women and different age groups.
Men say being young stops at 38 and a half. For women the cut-off is delayed until 42 years, nine months and three months.
Old age, according to women, begins at 60 years, four months and two weeks. But for men, it is much earlier — at 58.
The gap may be down to men placing more emphasis on diminishing strength as a mark of ageing, or because women tend to live longer.
As many might expect, the definition of old age goes back in later life. Under-50s said it begins at 46 years and nine months. For those age 50-plus, old age starts at 62 years, seven months and two weeks.
While 16- to 24-year-olds said being young ends at 32, for those aged 80-plus the answer was 52.
This is not far short of when the youngest group said old age begins — 54.
The Department for Work and Pensions said “the disparity in perceptions showed the potential for age stereotypes to be applied in very inconsistent ways”.
Class and income may also be factors, as unemployed said being young ends nine years earlier than those with full time jobs.