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Purpose in Later Life – Toward a Cultural Revolution

Publication Authors: 
Anne Colby, William Damon, Kathleen Remington, Matthew Bundick
Publication Year: 

This paper presents findings from a new study that investigates purpose beyond-the-self in Americans beyond the age of 50. Using a survey with a diverse national sample of 1200 and in-depth interviews with a subsample of 100, the study investigates why some people during late middle age and beyond focus entirely on relaxation and self-enrichment while, for some others, the goals that organize life include legacy and social contribution. The driving question of the study is how we can foster a cultural shift toward meaningful contribution as a widespread and highly valued part of life after middle age.