annual White House Conference on Ageing in 2015, social work and psychology
professors from both the prestigious Boston University and Wayne state
university presented their findings on their study entitled Age Discrimination
in the Workplace and its Association with Health and Work: Implications for
In order to
show age discrimination in the workplace and its effects on health,
sociologists and psychologists Ernest Gonzales, PhD, Lisa Marchiondo, PhD, Shan
Ran, Celeste Brown & Kate Goettge used the Amazon Mechanical Turk, to
survey a mixture of young (18-29), middle aged (30-49) and older workers (50+)
who were working 20+ hours per week (N=1,217) in the busy American city of Boston.
After collecting a series of qualitative and quantitative data, the
sociologists and psychologists formed a unidimensional scale entitled the
Workplace Age Discrimination Scale to find out more. In this scale, they asked
those who were being interviewed a series of questions about how often they had
experienced the various types of age discrimination in their workplace with the
interviewees to pick an answer ranging 1=quite often to 5=never. The questions
were as follows:
1. I have
been treated as though I am less capable due to my age.
2. I have
been given fewer opportunities to express my ideas due to my age.
3. I have
unfairly been evaluated less favourably due to my age.
4. I have
been passed over for a work role/task due to my age.
receive less social support due to my age.
contributions are not valued as much due to my age.
7. I have
been treated with less respect due to my age.
has delayed or ignored my requests due to my age.
has blamed me for failures or problems due to my age.
question, the sociologists and psychologists also asked: How much does this
experience typically bother you? The interviewees were told to pick an answer
from a scale ranging from 1=not at all to 5= a lot. From this data the
sociologists and psychologists were then able to figure out how much age
discrimination they received and how bothered the interviewees were and how it correlated
with the Mental Health Index, such as the Stress in General Scale, their job
satisfaction, their work turnover intentions and their retirement intentions.
Younger and older workers reported more age discrimination at work than middle
aged workers. The study also found that younger and older workers were found to
be more bothered by the age discrimination they received than the mid-aged
workers who when tested demonstrated a U-shape distribution. This has shown
that among younger and older workers, age discrimination at work does exist and
there is a lot of it. This study also shows that age discrimination in younger
and older workers does play a huge part in the worsening of their mental health
in the long run as it leads to higher job dissatisfaction and general stress
and elevated intentions for job turnover.
In an effort to assess age discrimination in England, doctors and
sociologists from the US National Institute of Medicine flew to England in 2012
to conduct a study to examine perceived age
discrimination in a large representative sample of older adults in England.
With the results, the sociologists and doctors hoped to find a solution to the
ever increasing ageing population who require work.
From America, doctors and sociologists, Isla Rippon,1 Dylan Kneale,2 Cesar de Oliveira,1 Panayotes Demakakos,1 and Andrew Steptoe1carried out a
cross-sectional study of the 7,500 individuals that were used in the fifth wave
of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) in 2010-11, a longitudinal
cohort study of men and women aged 52 years and older in England. Wave 5 asked
respondents about the frequency of five everyday discriminatory situations. ‘In
your day-to-day life, how often have any of the following things happened to
You are treated with less
respect or courtesy
You receive poorer
service than other people in restaurants and stores
People act as if they
think you are not clever
threatened or harassed
You receive poorer
service or treatment than other people from doctors or hospitals
Participants were asked to pick their answer from a scale ranging from 1
(almost every day) to 6 (never). The interviewees were then asked to say how
many times they had experienced each sort of discrimination in each question.
They were also asked to choose their answer from a sale which ranged from a few
times or more to a year or less than once a year or never, with the exception
of the fifth item which had no scale and was written to indicate whether the
respondents had ever had any sort of discrimination from doctors or hospitals.
The participants were then asked afterwards to choose an answer of what they
viewed was the reason for this discrimination. Possible options included: age,
gender, race, weight and physical disability, and participants were able to
select more than one reason.
Several people were used in this study including those with different ages,
sex, wealth, education, marital status and current employment status. As this
study was on age, age was split into four categories: 52–59 years, 60–69 years,
70–79 years and 80 and over.
Results: Approximately a third (33.3%) of all the interviewees experienced
age discrimination whether at work or at home, rising to 36.8% in those aged 65
and over. Through the results, the study concluded that age discrimination was
associated with older age whether in employment or not, higher education and lower
levels of household wealth. The correlates of age discrimination across the
five discriminatory situations were similar. The answers to the questions
indicated that all factors with the exception of marital status were related to
perceived age discrimination. Overall, age discrimination was more common in
older and less wealthy men. The questions used also showed that discrimination
increased with age, peaking in the 70–79 age group but that the sex difference did
not make a difference as the age increased. The study also interestingly showed
that those with intermediate and high education were more likely to report age
discrimination than those with a low level of education. The study also showed
that work status played a huge and important part in age discrimination.
Employed respondents were shown to be 25% less likely to report age
discrimination in comparison with those who were retired. The study suggested
that this was due to age discrimination in the workplace so severe that older
workers were scared to lose their jobs if they spoke up.
The results therefore show that wealth and employment were the most
important factors in age discrimination. The results also showed that age
discrimination was more common among better-educated respondents, while wealth
was inversely associated with discrimination. Men reported more age
discrimination than women in all five of the questions. The study also
indicated that age discrimination in the workplace is also severe amongst older