On 12 January 2012, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published an in-house research report ‘Attitudes to Age in Britain 2010-11’.
The report shows that age-related discrimination and stereotyping remain rooted in British society. The findings are based on new analysis from the ONS Opinions Survey.
The report looks at the factors that are associated with age discrimination and prejudice and compares attitudes between two key groups, people in their 20s and people aged 70 and over.
Key findings are:
- On average, respondents thought that ‘youth’ ends at 41 and that ‘old age’ begins at 59. However this varied by as much as twenty 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 per cent and 5 per cent respectively) 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 per cent) than over 70 (69 per cent).
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