Saturday, March 19, 2011
The Mid Life Survey has been running for a year now so here are the headline annual results. Where comparisons are given, these relate to the previous results in June 2010.
Survey Respondents’ Profile:
Male: 38%, Female: 62%
Age: 30-40: 11%, 40-50: 39%, 50-60 39%, other: 11%
Location: UK 44%, USA 39%, Europe 7%, Canada 3%, Australia 3%, Other 4%
Q1 - Happiness with Life:
46% of respondents were either happy or very happy with their lives at the moment, down from 55% previously. A further 32% were ‘OK.’ The remainder were either unhappy or very unhappy
Q2 - How is your Relationship?
26% of respondents said that they were happy and 27% said that they were in love (down from 32%). Perhaps more worryingly, 15% said that ‘they don’t do relationships’. 23% were just ‘OK’.
Comments in this section included:
'I am going to therapy to learn how to be less dependent on my wife to feel happy.'
'Going thru financial hardships has made a huge impact on our marriage. Ever since we had our daughter almost 10 years ago, we have just been gonig thru the motions rather than being an affectionate married couple.'
‘31 years of marriage both now have a PHD in marriage’
‘I feel fortunate to have a partnership that works. Not that there are not disagreements, there are. We just know how to solve them.’
Q3 – Will your Pension provide for you?
A worryingly high 23% of respondents don’t have a pension (down from 26%), while 26% felt that their pension would cover their needs in later life (up from 22%). 27% regretted not saving more during their earlier years. 21% had other investments, either instead of, or as well as, a pension.
Comment in this section included:
‘We are never retiring but hope to get refired!’ (love it!)
‘I'm hopeful that my financial situation will change. However, I know it is up to me to make it change’
‘I am still saving and investing’
'I'll get by. But I'm not sure how my wife and I both will deal with having to down size.'
'You must be kidding!'
'I got half of our retirement savings, but the stock market ate half of that. We'd planned to do most of our savings as his career took full swing. The problem is that it took full swing and then we divorced.'
‘I am working on passive income and believe it will cover expenses plus more.’
Q4- How Healthy are you?
42% said that they were OK for their age and 26% felt they were Pretty Fit. 23% were overweight, to some extent. 2% said that they could ‘Run a Marathon’.
One respondent had a problem this question, as they felt that someone who is overweight could still run a marathon. I completely accept that this is quite true and I wasn’t trying to mislead when I wrote the questions.
Q5-Is your life better or worse than your parents lives?
This question caused confusion for several people and when I rerun the survey I will reword it. Some respondents felt that there should be a distinction between the financial side of their lives and the emotional/satisfaction side of things.
Overall 86% felt that their lives were better than their parents’ lives.
Comments in this section included:
‘There should be "about the same" choice here. My parents had a nice life, and mine is nice too. Not really better or worse. I did not have children, and they raised myself and my siblings - so their young life might have been worse than mine.’
‘My dad made enough for my mom to stay home w/the 2 kids, but they went without a lot of stuff. Both my husband and I work (I'm in my own business, coming up on year 2) so the money's not always there, and that adds a lot of stress to him.’
‘My dad was a happy person and my mother was very unhappy. It was a big division they could never figure out.’
‘Much more emotionally healthy but not better financially yet.’
'this is a little too absolute. It's different - better in some contexts, worse in others.'
'I think I'm happier, but they are wealthier'
'Unemployed at 57'
'My parents had the perfect marriage. My father died a few years ago (at 59 way too young), so trying to live up to that type of happiness has also been a strain (this is ME comparing our marriage to theirs, not my husband comparing)'
Q6- How do you feel about your Life in General?
57% are looking forward to the rest of their lives (down from 63%) and 27% feel that ‘the best is yet to come’ (many of these will be the same people). 16% wish they’d studied harder when they were young (up from 7%) and 26% are worried about the rest of their lives (up from 18%). A strong theme was a worry about the world that their children will live in with 20% indicating this.
Comments in this section included:
‘I can't keep worrying about "what had happened", because it's in the past - so it can't be changed. It can be learned from, however, so hopefully I'll continue to grow as I ripen with age. I do worry about the world my kids are inheriting, but hopefully we'll give them the tools they'll need to make a difference :)’
‘I am concerned about the problems my kids and grand kids run up against, but I am not worried. I actively work to make it better.’
'The best is really right now and it's all been so good--this said with my advanced transformation hat on--and what's to come will be juicy and delicious, no modifiers need apply.'
'I am looking forward for the rest of my life, but I am worried that my wife and I may not be happy together. We've been married 24 years and have 1 daughter in college. We've been through a lot together, Good and Bad, but I'm not sure how we can fall back in love. That is important to me, but I don't think it is with her.'
So what do we conclude from this survey? Overall, there was a broad spectrum of responses with the majority of midlifers feeling that their lives are going 'OK to Well', although this has declined since last June, when the previous survey results were published. A worrying number continue to feel that their financial provision could be better. Given the state of the world economy, that’s not a huge surprise.
Relationships are a very mixed bag, probably reflecting the fact that many midlifers will have ended a long term relationship (either willingly or unwillingly). I was surprised to see that almost a fifth of respondents ‘don’t do relationships’. It would be interesting to probe deeper into those responses.
It’s encouraging that the majority of midlifers are looking forward to the rest of their lives. Equally encouraging is the concern over the world that our children and grandchildren will live in and the hope is that some of us will actively try to make this better.
I will shortly be setting up the new Mid Life Survey so if you have any questions that you would like me to include, please let me know.
The Mid Life Opportunity www.MidLifeOp.com
Now here is this week's 'sexist' joke:
A husband and wife are shopping in their local Wal-Mart.
The husband picks up a case of Budweiser and puts it in their cart.
'What do you think you're doing?' asks the wife.
'They're on sale, only $10 for 24 cans he replies.
'Put them back, we can't afford them demands the wife, and so they carry on shopping.
A few aisles further on along the woman picks up a $20 jar of face cream and puts it in the basket.
What do you think you're doing?' asks the husband.
'It’s my face cream. It makes me look beautiful,' replies the wife.
Her husband retorts: 'So does 24 cans of Budweiser and it's half the price.'
He never knew what hit him....