By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

A 45th reunion at Harvard: Survey says...

steve kelman

The volunteers from our class who organized our 45th reunion -- special kudos to co-chairs Rich Kopelman, Julia Livingston, Jane Manopoli, and Josh Tolkoff -- developed an online survey to sound out attitudes of the Class of 1970 on a bunch of personal, cultural, and political questions.

The results were presented at the reunion; here are some of them. (I leave out answers to questions about how often classmates have sex and whether they have had affairs outside of marriage.)

  • Half the class is still working full time (most are 66 or 67 years old); another 10 percent work part time. Twenty percent are semi-retired; 20 percent are fully retired. Of those not yet retired, about 30 percent planned to retire at 70, 40 percent after 70, and 20 percent intend to "work until I drop."
  • Asked to list activities they were doing in retirement, 20 percent said "change the world." (Remember, this is the sixties generation.)
  • Eighty-five percent either had stayed, or planned to stay, in the same community where they lived before retirement.
  • Forty percent had had only one career in their working life, while 30 percent reported two, 20 percent three, and 10 percent more than three. (This will be very different when the Class of 2019 has its 45th reunion.)
  • Asked how aging had affected them, 30 percent said they were slowing down, and 50 percent admitted they often had trouble remembering names.
  • Asked about life satisfaction, 75 percent described themselves as "pleased" or "ecstatic." Satisfaction had risen compared with a similar survey at the 40th reunion. (Generally, people present the present as more satisfying than the past. Numerous studies find that respondents regarded their teenage years as the least-satisfying, reminding one of the adage that youth is wasted on the young.)
  • The percentage who reported themselves "very much" in contact with their college friends rose from the 40th reunion. People are re-connecting as they age.
  • Half said they believed in God.
  • Thirty-nine respondents drove American cars (five of them Teslas), 135 Japanese cars (26 of them Prius), and 62 German cars.
  • Over 80 percent said they voted for Obama in 2012 -- a higher percentage than I would have expected. And 25 percent described him as the best president in their lifetime.

We got into a brief discussion of social media, and the moderator did a real-time poll of the audience. Fully 80 percent were on Facebook; somewhat under half on Twitter. Of those on Facebook, about 20 percent used it once a day or more.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Oct 29, 2015 at 5:24 AM


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