Research and analysis

Measuring attitudes to age in Britain (WP90)

Research to measure attitudes to age and experiences of ageism in Britain.

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Working Paper No. 90

By Christin-Melanie Vauclair, Dominic Abrams and Christopher Bratt

In the context of Britain’s ageing population it is important to monitor attitudes to age and age-based discrimination in society over time. Age, along with sex and ethnicity, serves as a primary base on which people categorise one another in everyday life. This research presents the findings from the analysis of two data sources used to measure attitudes to age and experiences of ageism in Britain. The aim of the analysis is to understand in greater detail how well these data sources captured attitudes to age and experiences of ageism, and use this to develop a reliable yet efficient set of indicators for further use in an omnibus survey. This has been achieved by testing an existing set of 55 indicators from the European Social Survey, and streamlining these into a core set of 23 indicators that are suitable for longer-term use in the UK context.

The indicators analysed allowed the evaluation of nine aspects of age attitudes and experiences:

  • perceived permeability of age categories and boundaries
  • perceived status of age categories
  • social distance
  • perceived threat of age categories
  • stereotype content associated with age categories
  • direct prejudice towards age groups
  • experienced discrimination
  • contact with different age categories
  • seriousness of prejudice.