Britain among worst places in Europe for age discrimination

A new report suggests older people in Britain could face greater workplace discrimination than those in many other European countries.

The results of a Europe-wide study, called the European Social Survey, suggest that ageism is currently a serious issue in the UK.

Based on data from a survey of 55,000 people across 28 countries conducted in 2009 but published this week, the comprehensive report found that 64 per cent of people in the UK believe ageism is a serious problem, compared to a European average of 44 per cent for Europe as a whole.

France was the only country to record a worse score in this category, with 68 per cent of people in the country saying ageism is a major issue.

Meanwhile, nearly two out of five Britons claim they have been ignored or patronised because of their age, a number higher than in all but four countries – Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The study also suggested that ageist attitudes are also impacting the workplace, with around half of Britons aged over 50 saying they were concerned about employers showing preference to people in their 20s, reports the Daily Mail.

In addition, 41 per cent of people in the UK said they thought that people aged 70 or over contributed little to the economy, while 36 per cent thought that those over 70 were a burden on healthcare services.

However, Nicola Robinson from Age UK, said that some of the results of the survey could be seen as positive.

“The statistic about worries around ageism could be worse in the UK because it could suggest we are simply more aware of it,” she said.

This sentiment was echoed by professor Dominic Abrams from the school of psychology at Kent University, who told the Guardian: “People in this country may feel there is a serious problem and be aware of discrimination because they are attuned to it.

“We know it is a serious problem across Europe and it may be that we are ahead of the curve on the issue, that there has been some successful awareness-raising.”

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  1. A small minority of UK employers measure their workforce stats so they KNOW whether illegal discrimination is occurring at any level in the organisation. Most other employers don’t measure the data at all.

    Could we push government into requiring company accounts to include information on age, sex and disability employment patterns at each level in the organisation?

    Company accounts are publicly available documents and would enable employees and external agencies to hold discriminatory employers to account.

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