Age discrimination is a type of discrimination that involves prejudice against people based on their age. Like racism and sexism, aging involves holding negative stereotypes about people of different ages, in this case, about older people .
Ageism was first used by gerontologist Robert N. Butler to describe discrimination against older adults. Today, the term is often applied to any type of discrimination based on age, whether it involves prejudice against children, adolescents , adults or the elderly.
Manifestations of age discrimination are frequently mentioned in work situations, where it can lead to pay disparities or difficulties in finding a job. An older person may have more difficulty than a younger person to choose a job, even if they have even more training. Younger adults may have difficulty finding work and receiving a lower salary due to perceived lack of experience, while older adults may have trouble getting promotions, finding a new job, and changing careers.
Stereotypes that contribute to aging
Stereotypes about older people are often related to how younger people expect them to behave. Some stereotypes are:
- Succession. More people younger assume that older people have had their chance and must give way to younger generations.
- Consumption. Younger people often feel that they should spend limited resources on themselves rather than older adults.
- Identity. Younger people feel that those who are older act according to their age but that there are groups that try to ‘steal’ their young identity, such as in speech patterns or in the way they dress.
Is ageism common?
Surprisingly, discrimination against the elderly is quite common . In a study published in a 2013 issue of The Gerontologist, researchers looked at how older people were represented on Facebook groups. They found 84 groups dedicated to the topic of older adults, but most of these groups had been created by people in their 20s. Almost 75% of the groups existed to criticize older people and almost 40% advocated forbidding activities such as driving and shopping .
Older adults also feel the impact of this discrimination in the workplace. According to the United States Equal Opportunity Commission, nearly a quarter of all claims filed by workers are related to age discrimination. Although this is not only something that happens in the United States, you should only ask older people around you to realize how at some point in their lives they may have felt discriminated against.
How to combat ageism
Older people in society should have the respect and admiration of younger people. They are the experience and the past of society and it is thanks to them that society advanced at the time and continues to do so right now. Older people must have an important role in our society, because they remain paramount. To achieve this, people must realize how they have to combat this discrimination.
The American Psychological Association suggests that age discrimination is a serious problem that should be treated in the same way as discrimination based on sex, race, and disability. They suggest that increasing public awareness of the problems that aging creates can help. As the population of older adults continues to grow, finding ways to minimize this discrimination will become increasingly important.