Ageism might not receive the same amount of attention at other forms of discrimination in the world today, but it is something that is growing as a public problem. As Baby Boomers begin to reach retirement in record numbers and younger workers begin to enter the working force, age discrimination looks to continue to increase unless we actively inform ourselves about the problem.
In research done by AARP, it was found that 64% of older workers say that they have either seen or personally experienced ageism in the workplace.
Things to Know About Ageism
The working world isn’t just a young person’s world any more. Workers are retiring later, still saving for their retirement, and enjoying life well into their 60′s. It might seem like a good idea to hire a younger worker than an older worker because there’s a good chance the younger worker will stick around longer, but that’s an illegal idea. That’s why these statistics on ageism are so important.
- The number of age discrimination claims that were recorded by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC]: 21,396.
- 58% of workers today believe that ageism begins when workers reach the age of 50.
- 92% of workers who have seen age discrimination happen in the workplace or have experienced it first-hand say that it is either very or somewhat common to see.
- Age has negatively affected advancement, selection, evaluations, and ratings of interpersonal skills for workers in studies that date back as far as the 1970s.
- 15% of workers in a recent survey said that it would be unacceptable to have a boss who was 70 years old. That’s 3x greater than those who would find it unacceptable to have a 30 year old boss.
- Under-25s in the workforce are at least 2x as likely to have experienced ageism than other age groups.
- 48% of accountants surveyed believing that it’s more difficult to get a job in their field after the age of 40.
- Cisco said it would be hiring 2,000 Millennials, while at the same time laying off 12,000 other, presumably older, mid-tier workers.
We often think of ageism as an older worker or senior issue, but it hits both ends of the age spectrum. Younger workers are even more likely to feel that they are being discriminated against than older workers. The only exception to this rule is if the younger worker has a senior position within their company. This means it is up to us to make sure that we are building a diverse culture within our society that is accepting of the skills and perspectives of both the young and the old. Companies that removed mandatory retirement ages have seen great benefits, as have companies that hire young workers for new ideas and a fresh perspective. When we come together, then iron sharpens iron and we are stronger.
Ageism Isn’t Just An American Problem
- Ageism is now the most widely experienced form of discrimination in Europe.
- 35% of Europeans say that they have experienced unfair treatment directed towards them solely because of their age. This is higher than gender [25%] and ethnicity [17%].
- While the number of unemployed people aged 16-49 has fallen 18.8% since May 2010 in the UK, it fell just 5.3% for those aged 50-64.
- 44% of Europeans see ageism as a serious problem. The country most concerned about ageism is France, where 68% of the population sees it as an issue.
- 39% of people who have experienced ageism in Europe say it with through a lack of respect, defined as being patronized or ignored.
- The percentage of Europeans who were insulted, abused, or even denied services because of their age: 29%.
- More than 30% of people in Turkey believe that ageism in their country doesn’t exist at all.
- Fewer than 1 in 2 people in the 55-64 age demographic are employed. Only 1 in 10 people in the 65-69 age demographic are gainfully employed.
- 57% of Europeans believe that older people contribute very little to the economy.
- People aged over 70 have the lowest perceived status in European society, even in their own eyes.
- 53%. That’s the percentage of Europeans who say they have no friends over the age of 70. In the 15-24 age demographic, that percentage reaches 80%.
As the world becomes more global every day, the issues that every nation faces will become a burden that every other nation must face as well. We are seeing this in many different ways today, from the business world to politics. As a nation goes to war, the world pays attention and looks to get involved if necessary to stop it. As global businesses shift policies, the governments of the world shift their policies as well so that there is still conformity. This may be why ageism is a global problem. It has started in the capitalistic societies because the oldest and youngest workers aren’t seen as productive. This filters down to all levels of industries until it reaches the individual workers, who then promote ageism philosophies online. It could be the most destructive form of “trickle-down” economics there has ever been.
Ageism Is On Social Networking Sites
- In a survey of Facebook pages that focus on the Baby Boomer demographics, 3 out of every 4 of them heavily criticized the population.
- 27%. That’s the percentage of Facebook groups that compare the older generations to infants.
- 37% of Facebook groups that focus on seniors actively advocate banning them from basic public activities, such as shopping for groceries.
- The median ages of employees at Apple, Google, and Facebook are 33, 31, and 26 respectively.
- 58% of people in the older generations say that they routinely see jokes that poke fun at their demographic or make light of the common stereotypes that are seen.
The issues that we are seeing today with social networking is the same issues that are being seen on many comment boards around the internet. People are feeling like they can be anonymous behind their computer screens, so their true colors come out. Sometimes it might be trolling, but even that hatred spewed in trolling can become a habit that is eventually adopted into that individual’s personal life. With the prevalence of ageism in social networking, especially on Facebook, where the older generations are essentially told to stay home and basically die because they are worthless, is it any wonder that ageism is increasing? We are all like sponges. A bit of what comes into your consciousness stays there. Ageism might be against your moral code now, but if you expose yourself to an environment where discrimination is normal, then eventually you’ll believe it is normal too.
Are We Killing Ourselves Through Ageism?
- In a recent study, younger participants were more likely to judge prescription-violating older adults as being incapable and less warm.
- With the exception of African-Americans, every ethnic and racial demographic scores highly with supporting senior stereotypes. The Asian demographic scores the highest.
- 25% of people who held negative stereotypes of the senior demographic had a heart attack 30 years later. Just 13% of people who held a positive view of seniors had the same issue.
- People with positive attitudes about the older generations are 44% more likely to fully recover from a severe disability when compared to those with negative attitudes.
- Those heavily critical of seniors in a negative way have shown a 30% greater decline in their own memory 40 years later.
- 70% of small study participants scored in the dementia range on a cognitive test when under stereotype threat, but only 14% of participants scored in this range when not under a stereotype threat.
- Those with more positive self-perceptions of aging live 7.5 years longer than those with negative self-perceptions of aging.
- Only about 10% of U.S. medical schools require work in geriatric medicine.
- The American Geriatrics Society says there are only about 7,600 physicians nationwide certified as geriatric specialists. The number needed by 2030? 36,000.
Some people take the joke of elderly drivers a little too far. It’s one thing to criticize a single individual in the older generational demographics if they are making questionable choices, like driving down a one-way street in the wrong direction. It’s a whole other problem to expand that one experience and make it seem like all older people do the exact same thing. As the studies show, ageism doesn’t just cause problems now for those who are being discriminated against. Those who hold negative attitudes to the older generations are putting themselves at a higher risk of harm later on in life as well. The ageism statistics show that staying positive in all circumstances is the best way to go.
Are Improvements Being Made Against Ageism?
- The re-employment rate for 55- to 64-year-olds is 47%.
- 24%. That’s the percentage of workers above the age of 65 that are able to find another job.
- Baby Boomers take longer [46 weeks] to find a new job than those in the 16-24 age demographic [20 weeks].
- The unemployment rate for older workers has been about 2 percentage points lower than for younger workers since the Great Recession of 2008.
There are some signs on the surface that older workers are starting to see some gains, but that’s only on the surface. The reason why the unemployment rates are lower is the fact that many older workers simply choose to retire or give up on working altogether rather than find a job that is equal in stature to the one they lost. When you’re 62 years old, have worked as a senior executive for 20 years, and then find yourself out of a job, do you really want to go work as a cashier at Burger King? Or is it better to take early Social Security benefits and try to make your way through investments? It’s a tough question to ask oneself, but it will become a much more common question in the days to come when more workers than ever before hit the older worker category.
Why Is It Important To Stop Ageism?
- Twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over 50 as under 25.
- The average age of a successful entrepreneur in high-growth industries such as computers, health care, and aerospace is 40.
- 3 out of every 4 older workers has more than 6 years of industry experience when they create a new small business.
- 50%. That’s the percentage of successful entrepreneurs over the age of 50 who have more than 10 years of industry experience when they create a startup.
- The 20-34 age demographic has the lowest rate of entrepreneurial activity than any other age demographic.
- Americans in the over 50 age demographic account for nearly half of all consumer spending, but network television focuses programming on the 18-34 demographic because they are seen as having more disposable income.
We are hurting ourselves financially, in our own health, and in our productivity if we allow ageism to continue. Older workers won’t be able to have access to the real care that they need as they age. Our society loses out on their experiences and education that can only come from aging. We even lose financially because half of all money spent, especially on vacations and other recreational activities, comes from the older generation. If we want to be able to succeed and grow as a people, then we must bring a higher level of respect back to our older generations and let younger generations still bring their fresh ideas to the table. Without both perspectives, we’re charting a course that will more likely fail than succeed.