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'60 is the new 50': As life expectancy rises, how Americans are embracing life's third act

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100 years ago, average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47.

Today, it’s closer to 80 — and lots of people are using those extra 30 years to reinvent themselves.

“It is a time when most people neither feel young nor old and they’re looking for new meaning in their lives,” sociologist Sara-Lawrence-Lightfoot says.

Today, On Point: Dr. Tom Andrew says ’60 is the new 50.’ We talk embracing life’s third act.


Tom Andrew, formerly chief medical examiner for the State of New Hampshire. A consultant at White Mountain Forensic. In his third age, he got a master’s degree in divinity and is awaiting formal ordination as a Methodist deacon.

Chip Conley, strategic advisor for hospitality and leadership at Airbnb. Founder of the Modern Elder Academy, which helps people in their ‘third age’ find a new path forward. Author of Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder. (@ChipConley)

Sara-Lawrence-Lightfoot, MacArthur Prize-winning sociologist. Professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Author of The Third Chapter: Risk, Passion, and Adventure in the Twenty-Five Years After 50.

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Barbara Waxman, gerontologist. Author ofThe Middlescence Manifesto: Igniting the Passion of Midlife.

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TedX Talks: “Becoming a Modern Elder | Chip Conley” — “Life experience is making a comeback. A “Modern Elder” is as curious as they are wise and they are becoming indispensable in a world in which power is escalating to the young faster than ever before.”

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