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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Four in ten over 50s experience age discrimination

Almost four in ten people aged 50 and over have suffered from age discrimination, with 62% of those believing they have lost out on a job because of it, according to research from SunLife.

Over 50s feel discriminated against and stereotyped ©Shutterstock
Over 50s feel discriminated against and stereotyped ©Shutterstock

The workplace was found to be the most likely scene of such discrimination, followed by shops, while driving, in bars and restaurants, and on public transport.

As a result, almost half of over 50s believe they have been overlooked for promotion, 50% feel ignored by shop staff, and three in ten think their GP treats them differently than when they were younger.

SunLife marketing director, Ian Atkinson, said: “Age discrimination is still a real challenge facing many people over 50 because of outdated stereotypes and ignorance.

“In reality, many over 50s are far from this pre-conceived idea some areas of society still seem to have of them. It’s also surprising, in a way, that we discriminate against a group we all hope we’ll one day join.”

The research involved the study of 50,000 people aged 50 and over, finding that 28% believe age discrimination is more common than ever before, with 5% saying they felt they had been encouraged, or forced to retire.

Although 51% said that people of any gender face discrimination equally, 34% think it is something that affects women more than men.

Examples of discrimination cited include being turned down for a loan or credit agreement based on how old they were, getting called inappropriate nicknames, and being ignored while waiting or queuing for something.

“Far from winding down, people over 50 are busier than ever, trying new things or taking up new hobbies and just generally living life to the full. But they feel discriminated against and stereotyped,” Atkinson continued.

“Nine out of ten over 50s say brands aren’t interested in them, and three-quarters feel the portrayal of over 50s in the media is an outdated stereotype that does not represent them.

“50 is definitely not old, and with life expectancy and retirement age rising year on year, life after 50 certainly doesn’t mean the need to slow down or take it easy – and more brands and businesses need to realise that.”

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