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Given the ageing of the US and world populations, age-based discrimination is increasingly common. Historically, researchers who have studied this phenomenon have focused on the opportunities and access for older individuals. Even laws have such a focus, as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act offers employment protections for people age 40 or older.
Such an emphasis suggests, though, that younger individuals do not face age-based mistreatment. Recently, Christopher Bratt from the University of Kent, and his colleagues, examined this very possibility.
They analyzed data from the European Social Survey. Over 56,000 participants from 29 different countries responded to three questions that were designed to measure their experiences with age-based mistreatment.
They found that in half of the countries, older individuals reported low levels of age discrimination. In other countries, experiences with experiences were U-shaped, such that older and younger individuals experienced discrimination, but middle-aged individuals did not.
The U-shaped pattern is consistent with research from Lisa Marchiondo, of the University of New Mexico, and her colleagues. Contrary to the assumption that only older workers experienced age discrimination, the researchers found that younger workers also experienced age-based mistreatment and sometimes at higher frequency levels. Middle-aged workers, on the other hand, were unlikely to be treated differently at wrok because of their age.
These findings show that age-based discrimination can occur at various points in one’s life, especially when a young adult or an older individual.