Objectives: To test and expand upon modernization theory's account of subjective social status (SSS) of older people in society. It was hypothesized that perceptions of older people's social status should be higher in more modernized countries and that the proportion of older people in employment should moderate the relationship between modernization and SSS of older people.
Methods: Data were from the "Experiences and Expressions of Ageism" module in the fourth round of the European Social Survey. The sample analyzed included 45,706 individuals from 25 countries in the European region. Multilevel modeling was used to test the hypotheses.
Results: The SSS of older people (aged 70 years and older) was perceived to be higher in countries with very high levels of modernization and in countries with a higher proportion of older people in employment. The positive association between modernization and SSS of older people was stronger within countries with a lower proportion of older people in employment.
Discussion: The proportion of older people who are employed is an important factor that is related to perceptions of the social status of older people in less modern societies. The individual and societal implications are discussed, specifically in relation to policies promoting active aging.
Keywords: Cross-national comparisons; Employment; Modernization; Older adults; Social status.
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