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Age discrimination 'embedded' in UK

Published on 13 January 2012 12:30 PM

A new report released by the government shows that age-related stereotyping and discrimination is 'firmly embedded' within British society.

Because of a rapidly ageing British population, ageism - which the Department for Work and Pensions report says is a serious problem in the UK - must be tackled.

Some of the questions looked at people's attitudes towards people in their 20s in comparison to those aged over 70, with the help of data from a 2010/11 survey which was held by the Office for National Statistics.

Nearly 2,000 people were questioned, and in one task they were asked to rate whether they would find a qualified 30-year old or 70-year-old boss 'unacceptable or acceptable'.

Most who answered said either was acceptable, but 15% of people in their 20s said having a boss in their 70s was 'unacceptable', and 5% of over-70s said the same, when compared to having a 30-year-old boss.

On average, people said 59 was the age at which old age starts, and that 41 is when youth comes to an end.

But this varied by up to 20 years, depending on the age and sex of those who took part. Female respondents and older people generally said youth ended later on in life.

Those over 70 are seen in a better light than those in their 20s, analysts found, with septuagenarians seen as having higher morals, being more friendly and more competent.

The Attitudes to Age in Britain report also found that those in their 40s have the highest status out of all the age groups, while people over 70 are thought to have a higher status than those in their 20s.

Both the young and old have problems with ageism and attitudes need to change, the report concluded.

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director, commented: 'The research shows some disturbing levels of age discrimination. This is completely unacceptable as negative attitudes and stereotypes can leave older people feeling isolated and excluded from opportunities.

'We need to look beyond someone's age to their individual strengths and strive for a society which enables older people to remain active and independent.'

Copyright Press Association 2012

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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