By Dominic Abrams, Christin-Melanie Vauclair and Hannah Swift
In the context of Europe’s ageing population an important challenge is how to respond to people’s assumptions and expectations about age and ageing. Attitudes to age can affect people of all ages, and involve people’s views both of themselves and of others. These attitudes have important implications for individual well-being, for age equality and for social cohesion. Understanding attitudes to age is essential if governments are to develop appropriate strategies for an ageing population.
This research explores how people’s age and other demographics combine with different characteristics of the countries in which they live to affect responses to the following topics:
- age categorisation and identification
- perceived status of people over 70
- perceived threat from people over 70
- perceptions of stereotypes of people aged over 70
- how positively or negatively people feel towards those aged over 70 (direct prejudice)
- people’s personal experiences of age prejudice.
Understanding both the individual and the country-level factors that influence these measures can help us to predict and understand where problems of ageism or age misperception are most likely to arise. The research for this study was conducted using European Social Survey (ESS) 2008/09 data, which provides representative samples from 28 countries belonging to the European region.