Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ageism and Age Discrimination

One thing you can be certain of when you attend an event related to ageing is that some bright spark will come to the mind shattering conclusion that the perceived problems are all the fault of ‘ageism’ and if only we could recify the ills it creates then the world would be full of sweetness and light.

How refreshing to read a well argued and well written paper that unpicks the issues and provides a fascinating historical context.The author is Professor John Macnicol, from the LSE, and is published by ILC-UK as a “think-piece”.

A few factlets that caught my eye:

Between 1881 and 2008 the economic activity rates of UK men aged 65+ fell from 74% to 10%. Can this really be attributed to a sevenfold increase in ageism at work?

In the early 1950s, two-thirds of men worked past the state pension age of 65 (often mistakenly assumed to be a universal mandatory retirement age); now two-thirds have left work by age 64. Clearly, being forced out of work at the age of 65 has not been a major factor in the spread of retirement. The major cause has been declining labour market demand in those sectors of the economy that have employed high proportions of older workers.

Most male early retirement (that is, occurring before the age of 65) has been involuntary (caused by redundancy or ill-health) rather than a result of employers’ ageist hostility.
The author doesn’t offer any ‘solutions’ but at least he provides a good starting point to decide what the ‘problem’ is we are trying to solve. Really worth reading. Dick Stroud

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