“If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35 you have no brain.” So said Winston Churchill. Or US president John Adams. Or perhaps King Oscar II of Sweden. Variations of this aphorism have circulated since the 18th century, underscoring the well-established rule that as people grow older, they tend to become more conservative.
The pattern has held remarkably firm. By my calculations, members of Britain’s “silent generation”, born between 1928 and 1945, were five percentage points less conservative than the national average at age 35, but around five points more conservative by age 70. The “baby boomer” generation traced the same path, and “Gen X”, born between 1965 and 1980, are now following suit.