Young and old discriminated at work


Frank May/PA

The young and elderly both face age discrimination in the workplace, according to new research by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The report, based on analysis from the Office for National Statistics's opinions survey, looked at factors associated with age discrimination and prejudice, and compared attitudes between people in their 20s and those aged over 70.

The research revealed some surprise opinions about the perceived age of 'old' and the acceptable age of a boss.

"The study revealed that those aged over 70 are viewed by people as more friendly, more competent and as having higher moral standards than those in their 20s," wrote report authors, Daniel Sweiry and Maxine Willitts.

However, when respondents were asked how acceptable they would find a suitably qualified 30-year-old or 70-year-old boss, the results showed a bias towards younger workers. While most were accepting of either age, three times as many (15% and 5% respectively) thought that having a 70-year-old boss would be "unacceptable" compared with having a 30-year-old boss.

On average, respondents thought "youth" ended at 41 and "old age" began at 59. However, this varied by as much as 20 years in relation to the age of the respondent, with the age at which youth stopped and old age started increasing in relation to the age of the respondent.

Just over a third of respondents said they had seen some age-related prejudice in the past year. Experiences of age discrimination were more common for younger groups, with under-25s at least twice as likely to have experienced it than other age groups.

People in their 40s were generally viewed as having the highest status, while on average people aged over 70 were given a higher status than those in their 20s.

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