The Recreati Mindset is our snapshot of the world view of the American adults who turn 50 in 2012. It is our homage to (and rip-off of) the Beloit College Mindset List, which profiles 18-year-olds as they start college.


People who turn 50 in 2012 were born in 1962. They have never known a world in which the United States had normal diplomatic relations with Cuba. The Beatles and the Peace Corps have always existed and Americans have always been in space. Catch-22 has always been a catchphrase, and Barbie has always had Ken.


Every year seems like a fulcrum, but this year’s class of 50-year-olds were born into a world that was undergoing big transitions in arts, politics and thought.  The Cuban Missile Crisis pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war. The Rolling Stones debuted in London (as the opening act for Long John Baldry) and France accepted the independence of Algeria. Telstar relayed the first trans-Atlantic television signal. On August 4, Marilyn Monroe died and baseball player Roger Clemens was born. Rachel Carlson’s Silent Spring was published, launching the environmental movement in the United States.


They became teenagers in 1975, the year that the first microcomputer—the Altair 8800—was introduced. They were finally tall enough to go on the most thrilling amusement rides, just in time for the opening of Disney’s Space Mountain. As they did what teenagers do (with Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” in the background), they might have been vaguely aware of the Fall of Saigon, Squeaky Fromme’s attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford, and the death of old-guarders Chiang Kai-shek and Haile Selassie. But probably not.


(Really. The top song was “Love Will Keep Us Together,” which is not how we remember 1975. No one should have their first kiss with that playing in the background. And “Rhinestone Cowboy” was second. Sad. You have to cut these 50-year-olds some slack, on that basis alone.)


And now they are 50. Their median net worth is a bit under $100,000; their median income ranges from $28,617 a year (female) to almost $44,731 (male).*


The U.S. Social Security Administration estimates that they have quite a few more good years ahead: a bit over 31 for the men and nearly 35 for the women. If the men take care of themselves and hit 70, they’ll pick up an additional 5 years of life, all the way to 86; the women who reach 70 will likely reach check out just shy of their 88th birthday.


(*This is actually the Census Bureau’s 2009 estimate of income for people aged 45-54. So close, but not the ideal statistic we were looking for.)


Image of brain lobes in Hungarian (we think) by Syp, via Wikimedia Commons.