Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Predictors of attitudes to age across Europe

The UK’s Department for Works and Pensions has published a 91 page report that tells us surprising little.

There are piles of charts like the one above  - showing the perception of the start of old age. I am left thinking – so what?

Here is an extract from the press release about the report

Regardless of their own age, respondents in countries with a higher proportion of older people were more positive, suggesting that societal attitudes shift as a population ages. Older people’s status was perceived to be higher in countries that had later state pension ages.

Age discrimination was personally experienced by about one third of all respondents, with the UK placed just below the average for all ESS countries.

Age discrimination was affected by a variety of individual characteristics: with ageism being experienced more by younger people, those who were less well educated, felt poorer, were not in paid employment or were living in urban areas.

Across all ESS countries the stereotypes of older people as friendly and competent were consistently affected by age, education and residential area, with the UK placed above average for friendliness and below average for competence for all ESS countries.

At the country-level older people being seen as a threat to the economy was influenced by economy-related characteristics, whereas, older people being seen as a threat to health services was affected by state pension age for men, i.e. a policy-related variable.

Maybe I am missing something? I think perhaps I am.

I thought it was strange the DWP should be involved in this sort of research until I saw how the guy responsible for pensions was spinning the research-- ‘The idea that 59 is old belongs in the past. We need to challenge our perceptions of what "old age" actually mean" I suspect this is code for.." we might have another bash at raising the pension age". Dick Stroud

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