According to a recent study, of all the decades to live in beginning with the 1930’s many 20-somethings wished they could have lived in the 1980’s. Despite shoulder pads, glam rock, the “Me” generation, the age of greed, and yuppies, the 80’s were voted #1 on The Top Tens list for best decade to live, or wish you had lived in.  What’s particularly striking is that the number of those who voted for the 80s, were yet to be born. Like, not for another 20-30 years.

While the 70’s, 90’s and 2000’s were also perceived as better, a significant number of 20-somethings cited the ’80s as the decade they wished to have lived in.  But they unanimously agreed that the after 2010 there wasn’t anything to miss.  In fact, they thought everything changed for the worst.   Apparently the 20-somethings of today feel robbed of what they thought their teenage experience was supposed to be.

The teenage experience is one of our most impactful cultural milestones. Remember the day we got to say “teen” after our age?   For the next 7 years our pre-adult leashes would continue to grow longer, and the freedom of our experiences became increasingly less curated.  During those years we underwent a marked transformation.  It was incredulous to us that there was ever even a time when we had 10 pm bedtimes, sat at the “kids table” for Thanksgiving, and had to have our moms drive when we went on a date. 

However, the 20-somethings who yearned for a decade eons before their time spoke almost nostalgically of a past they never had.    Social circles did things together.  They were free from the internet, life was simpler, people were nicer,  and the music was better. 

What is it about the 80’s that those 20-somethings perceive they missed out on that was so important?  What is it that they are really yearning for?  It’s not just 20-year-olds either.  People in other age groups, although not as many, also said the 80s was the best decade to live in.  Judging by the comments, things were perceived as going downhill fast sometime between 2010 and 2015. 

Here are the rankings for the best decade to live in from 1900s – 2020s along with some of the comments.

1.  The 1980s

Mixed tapes! I loved listening to the American top 40 and recording all my favorite songs”.

“There were jobs and life was simple. Helping one another was the normal and we didn’t believe in bullying”. 

“We were breaking down social walls…”

“the 80s seemed such a fun and prosperous time.”

“One of the best things about the 80s and early 90s is that there was no internet and no chat rooms. People socialised outside. They went to parties and evening dances. We just don’t have that…”

“I was born in the early 2000s but from what I’ve seen in movies and read in biographies, the 80s were the best in the US.”

“Hands down 80’s…Why am I born in 21st century?”

“I was born in the wrong generation. I love all the music from the 80s, like nervana and led zeplin and pink floid.   I WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN A TEEN IN THE 80’s!


2. The 1990s

“It was probably the most peaceful of any decade in the last 100 years. Everyone had money and everyone was (relatively! ) happy. We had mobile phones and the Internet but they hadn’t taken over our lives yet and we got great movies and T.V. shows”. 


3.  The 2000s

“… grew up in the 2000’s, it was great. Technology was not abused, and it was lighter. There wasn’t so much pressure. It was like a prolonged 20th century.”

“… there was a hopeful outlook for the future, particularly with the progress being made in science, technology and egalitarianism.”

“Enough technology that we could find out things, it wasn’t until the 2010s that the internet completely ruined everything.”

“… early 2000s to like 2007 were a lot like an extension of the 90s.”


4. The 1970s

“The best music was spawned in the 70’s…musicians actually played instruments we used record players and not digital music.”

“Everyone that I know who grew up in the 70s is really nice.”

“People seemed very casual in the 70s.” 

 “The 70s had THE BEST cars. You can’t say there’s anything cooler than a bright red 73 hemi cuda with yellow flames and slick tires with stripes on the sidewalls.” 

The Vietnam War ended. A new realism in movies, T.V., music, and comedy. It was the 60s dressed in a Leisure Suit, in a good way.


5. The 1960s

Great Music and hippie culture. – The Beatles (Need I say more).”

First Wave feminism and less of a class based society in Britain.

“…we may of been poorer but life had a cadence to it.”


6. The 2010s

“…got broken by the information overload, fakeness and health crisis of the 2020s.”

“I say that any decade before 2010 is a good decade.”

“The 2010s for me weren’t actually that bad. I actually miss them. Would be happy to go back and live there. Much better than the 2020s with COVID or the 1940s with WW2.”

“Kids don’t act like kids anymore instead they act like they’re a bunch of adults with boyfriends and iPhone 6s, the 2010s sucks.”


7.  The 1950s

“1950’s was an amazing decade! WWII was over and US citizens benefited greatly from this victory. The dollar stretched far & wide, the cars looked tough and were super affordable.

“As a white man, the ’50s may have been the best decade to grow up in. As a black man, the ’50s easily ranks at the bottom of the list.”

“Cool music and fashion but not the best time to live in if you are a person of color, LGBTQ+, or even a woman.”


8.  The 1920s

“1920s! The time when everybody wore suits and dresses, people had so much class. They were very polite. Like bro. I’d give second to the 70s and third to the 90s. Then the fifties.

It was all about the party back then. Murders? What murders? Oh, yeah I forgot about the gangsters and polio. At least we were classy.

I agree, it was classy. The flappers were pretty cool too. I wish people were as elegant nowadays


9. The 1900s

Far from the best but this decade looked better than the horror that was the 1930s or WWI throughout the 1910s ( 1910-1913 and 1919 looked okay though ).


10.  The 1940s

“Wartime decade in the history. Compares to the worst decade of 2010s or so and 2020.”

“Yeah, probably not the best time period to live in if you were German, Jewish, Russian, British, Polish or Chinese…”


What Does It Mean?
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that this is an accurate glimpse in to the current mindsets of Americans. It would stand to have a profound influence on how our culture continues to shape itself going forward and would be unmistakably played out in values, beliefs, perceptions and behaviors.  In what ways?   Good question.




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