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59% See Years Before 40 As Best of Their Lives

For most Americans, the best years of their lives happen before they turn 40. 

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 59% of American Adults rate the time from their birth until age 39 as their best years. For 15%, it's their childhood up until they turn 18, while 24% feel 18 to 29 are the best years of their lives. Twenty percent (20%) rate their 30s as the best.

Fourteen percent (14%) say their 40s are the best time, and 12% more think ages 50 to 64 are their peak years. Just six percent (6%) see the retirement years, age 65 and older, as the best years of their lives. (To see survey question wording, click here).

Conversely, 49% of Americans think their worst years are when they're age 40 and older. Nearly one-out-of-three (31%) reserve that designation for ages 65 and older. Only 10% rate their childhood years as the worst, while 13% and 11% respectively say that of their 20s and 30s. But 17% aren't sure which years are the worst of their lives.

The findings for both questions are generally similar with the first time Rasmussen Reports asked them this time last year.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on October 15-16, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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