Age discrimination: a serious UK issue

Old couple31 October 2011

UK citizens experience the most age discrimination, have a moderate level of wellbeing, and mostly trust the police, according to a survey of attitudes in European countries.

The research findings were revealed at an ESRC Festival of Social Science event at City University on Monday 31 October.

Data from the ESRC-supported European Social Survey, which covers more than 30 nations, was analysed to compare the attitudes and experiences of UK respondents with citizens from other European countries.

Surprisingly in these tough economic times, there is no overall increase in the number of Europeans finding it "difficult" or "very difficult" to live off their household income today compared with 2004 - although six in ten of UK respondents had to draw on savings or get into debt to cover everyday living expenses.

A high proportion of people in the UK (64 per cent) regard age discrimination to be a “serious” or “very serious” issue, compared to 44 per cent of all survey respondents. Age discrimination is experienced across Europe as the most common form of discrimination, ahead of sex or ethnic discrimination. Rather than direct insults or abuse, the discrimination was usually experienced as a lack of respect or being ignored.

The UK rated number 10 in a ranked list of wellbeing in European countries – in front of Germany, France and Spain.

We also generally trust our police forces, with over 70 per cent of UK respondents feeling that the police is doing a good job. However, this is a lower level of trust than in several other countries, including Switzerland, Germany and the Nordic countries.