Perceived age discrimination in older adults

Age Ageing. 2014 May;43(3):379-86. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft146. Epub 2013 Sep 26.


Objectives: to examine perceived age discrimination in a large representative sample of older adults in England.

Methods: this cross-sectional study of over 7,500 individuals used data from the fifth wave of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), 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. Participants who attributed any experiences of discrimination to their age were treated as cases of perceived age discrimination. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to estimate the odds ratios of experiencing perceived age discrimination in relation to selected sociodemographic factors.

Results: approximately a third (33.3%) of all respondents experienced age discrimination, rising to 36.8% in those aged 65 and over. Perceived age discrimination was associated with older age, higher education, lower levels of household wealth and being retired or not in employment. The correlates of age discrimination across the five discriminatory situations were similar.

Conclusion: understanding age discrimination is vital if we are to develop appropriate policies and to target future interventions effectively. These findings highlight the scale of the challenge of age discrimination for older adults in England and illustrate that those groups are particularly vulnerable to this form of discrimination.

Keywords: ELSA; England; ageing; ageism; discrimination; older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ageism* / prevention & control
  • Ageism* / psychology
  • Ageism* / statistics & numerical data
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Perception*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires