Sep 30, 2018

Lying about your age, past and present

In Albion's Seed, on p. 561-2 of my copy:

In twentieth-century America, with its intense youth bias, people tend to make themselves a little younger than they actually are; many choose to remain 39, or 49, or 59.

In early America a very different sort of age bias appeared: people of mature age tended to make themselves a little older. This was the case both in New England and Virginia. But in the Puritan colonies the tendency to inflate one’s age was strongest in later life, and comparatively weak in early adulthood.

In Virginia, on the other hand, people tended to make themselves a little older in every stage of adulthood. The explanation may be found in cultural ideals. In the Puritan colonies, which made long life into a Calvinist “Sign,” the status of elder saint applied only to people of advanced age.

But in Virginia, the idea of patriarchy applied to senior adult males of any age. One culture exalted old age; the other rewarded seniority – two very different systems.