Book News: November 19th, 2009

By Dominic Abrams, Tiina Eilola and Hannah Swift

The surveys carried out by the University of Kent on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions reveal a consensus that many people experience ageism and that ageism is a serious problem. Younger people experience ageism just as acutely as older people.

The widely held perception that people over 50 are likely to be ‘written off’ as old, highlights the need to ensure that the voices of older people are heard clearly at national, regional and local levels. It is necessary to create a dialogue about age related issues that involves and recognises the perspectives of people of all ages.

People categorise ages in different ways. By their mid-30s most respondents stopped describing themselves as young. By their mid-70s most started describing themselves as old. On average, respondents judged that ‘youth’ generally ends at 45 years of age, but 18 per cent said youth ends by the age of 30 and 11 per cent said it continues beyond the age of 50. On average, respondents judged that ‘old age’ starts at 63 years of age.

Attitudes to age can affect people of all ages, and involve people’s views both of themselves and of others. These attitudes have important implications for individual well-being, for age equality and for social cohesion. Understanding attitudes to age is essential if we are to develop appropriate strategies for an ageing population.

The report is available from DWP.