Age discrimination shown as embedded in British society
Major report raises concerns for young and old alike
A major Government report which has been long awaited has shown that age-related discrimination and stereotyping remain rooted in British society.
Research by the Department for Work and Pensions compared attitudes between two key groups, people in their 20s and people aged 70 and over.
Key findings from the research show that:
* On average, respondents thought that “youth” ends at 41 and “old age” begins at 59. However this varied by as much as 20 years in relation to the age of the respondent. The age at which youth stops and old age starts increased in relation to the age of the respondent
* Just over a third of respondents said they had been shown some age-related prejudice in the last year. This has risen slightly from a quarter in the previous survey.
Experiences of age discrimination were more common for younger groups, with under 25s at least twice as likely to have experienced discrimination than other age groups;
* Perceptions towards those aged over 70 are more positive than towards those in their 20s. People over 70 are viewed as more friendly, having higher moral standards and as being more competent than people in their 20s;
* In terms of general status, people in their 40s were viewed as having the highest status. On average people aged over 70 were given a higher status than those in their 20s;
* On average, both those in their 20s and those over 70 were viewed as “neutral” in terms of their contribution to society;
* Respondents were asked to say how acceptable or unacceptable they would find a suitably qualified 30-year-old or 70-year-old boss. While most respondents were accepting of either, three times as many (15% and 5%) thought that having a 70-year-old boss would be “unacceptable” compared with having a 30-year-old boss;
* Nearly half of all respondents viewed people in their 20s and aged over 70 as being two groups which are part of the same community. However a third viewed these groups as being individuals rather than groups;
* The majority of respondents had friends in either age group whom they could discuss personal issues with, however people were more likely to have someone under 30 to talk to (77%) than over 70 (69%).
Pensions Minister Steve Webb said that attitudes towards age must change.
“The idea that we are ‘old’ at 59 belongs in the era of Downton Abbey – not in 2012,” he said.
Is age discrimination rife in Britain? Just how old is old? Any regular reader if this blog will be aware of the number of times we have written on this topic. Discrimination is an issue for both young and old and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Dr Donald Macaskill