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Thursday, October 22, 2009

What you think about age depends on how old you are

Buried away in this 164 page report, just published by the Department for Wages and Pensions about the attitudes of Brits to age are some fascinating and a somewhat disturbing findings.

The research in this report is based on secondary analysis of data from five national surveys (with a total of 6000 respondents).

Here are a few of the findings:
There were very large age differences in perceptions of 'old age', however on average respondents judged that youth ends at 45 years and old age starts at 63 years of age. The trend is for older people to judge the end of youth and start of old age to be much later in life than did younger people.

One in five (22%) of respondents perceived people over 70 as posing an economic threat (taking out more from the economy than they have or currently put in). Younger respondents (36%) perceived this economic threat more than did older respondents.

The majority of respondents viewed older people in a positive light. However 9% expressed indirect prejudice against those over 70 years of age and a further 9% did not feel it was important to control their prejudice against other age groups.

There was significant social separation between older and younger people with 69% of respondents regarded people under 30 and over 70 as having little or nothing in common. The findings also suggest that as people live longer they may become increasingly isolated from younger generations with less than a third of respondents aged over 70 having friends aged under 30.

Attitudes to old age were more positive in regions with a higher proportion of older people, suggesting the local context also makes a difference to attitudes to age. For example, London had the smallest proportion of people aged over 65 compared with younger people compared to other regions and was more likely to perceive people over 70 and under 30 as belonging to two separate age groups.
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Undoubtedly the tensions, related to age, will increase as the next wave of the recession bites when jobs get even harder to get and keep and public expenditure cuts accelerates. Not good. Dick Stroud

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