Age discrimination widespread in
United States…International Longevity Center details realities of
ageism in report
is deeply embedded and widespread in American society according to a
new report, Ageism in America, issued by the International
Longevity Center-USA (ILC-USA).
Ageism, the denial
of basic human rights of older persons, is one of the most pervasive
prejudices across human society says the ILC-USA.
In the 114 page
report, a multidisciplinary task force led by Dr. Robert N. Butler,
president and CEO of the ILC-USA, document and analysis the numerous
aspects of age discrimination, including discrimination in the
workplace, elder abuse, lack of emergency preparedness for older
persons, and the negative impact of the media and the marketplace.
The ILC-USA considered existing research,
current findings, policies and services that address these
“It is critical
that we begin to transform the culture and experience of aging in
America,” says Dr. Butler. “It is a matter of human and civil
Social forces play
a large role in shaping attitudes toward aging. According to Dr.
Becca R. Levy,
Assistant Professor, Yale University School of Medicine,
psychologist and member of the report taskforce, “Age stereotypes
are often internalized at a young age—long before they are even
relevant to people.”
Cultural and social
age discrimination is perpetrated in the marketing and media. Older
adults are rapidly becoming the largest market segment in society
and will possess the most purchasing power of any demographic in
human history, but in contrast to other industries, such as travel
and insurance, advertising has been slow to respond to the new
prejudice by an individual against an older person, is documented in
the increase reports of elder abuse. It is estimated one to three
million older Americans are victims of abuse yet only one out of six
incidents of elder abuse is brought to the attention of authorities.
The attitudes of physicians and other health providers, as well as health
care institutions, offer instances of frank ageism or subtle
discrimination based upon age. 60 percents of adults over 65 do not
receive recommended preventive services, and 40 percent do not
receive vaccines for flu and pneumonia.
Ageism in the workplace restricts the job opportunities of older workers,
with significant consequences for the national economy. While many
employers may have legitimate concerns about the costs related to
the earnings, health insurance and pensions of older workers, many
also have misconceptions about the productive potential and
receptiveness to training of older workers.
"There are 75 million baby boomers in America, and over the
next two decades they will reach typical retirement age," says Dr.
Kenneth Knapp, economist and Senior Research Associate at the ILC-USA.
"This could have profound effects on the labor market, and employers
really have to assess their perceptions of older workers." Dr.
Knapp urges employers to be proactive rather than reactive.
"Employers who attract and retain older workers today will be in a
much better competitive position as the boomers begin to retire," he
says, "than employers who wait until tomorrow."
In recent years, manmade and natural disasters have exposed major
problems in emergency services for older Americans. Throughout the
country, the emergency safety measures in place are often severally
flawed in providing safety for vulnerable populations. 60 percent
of victims in Hurricane Katrina were age 61 or older.
economic costs of ageism on American society reveals the monetary
benefits awarded under formal charges and litigation proceedings of
age discrimination reveals from 1992 through 2004, the monetary
awards have totaled $861 million. In addition, there is an economic
loss to the older employee, who is not fully utilized for their
skill and experience.
Ageism In America includes Status Reports on seven major ageism topics, a
definitions guide to different types of ageism, a list of ageist
terms, and a timetable of efforts to combat ageism.
The report concludes with
a Call for
Further Research and an Agenda for Action.
An advisory board, under the direction of ILC-USA researcher
Kyoung Kim, helped shape the framework and content of Ageism In
America. Members of the board included
Carl Bernstein, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist,
Lawrence K. Grossman, Former
President, NBC News, Becca R. Levy,
Ph.D., Associate Professor, Division of Chronic Disease
Epidemiology, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Yale School of Public
Health, Laurie A. McCann, Senior
Attorney, AARP Foundation Litigation,
Sara Rix, Senior Policy Advisor, AARP Public Policy Institute,
William D. Zabel, Esq., Partner, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP
and John F. Zweig, Chairman, Specialist Communications, WPP
Group USA, Inc.
The ILC-USA hopes
that Ageism in America will provide the intellectual basis
for future legal and legislative efforts, especially as it relates
to enforcing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and
nursing home regulations. The report includes a proposal to
legislators at the local, state and federal level to provide legal
protection against age discrimination, incorporating age in Civil
Rights Title VII, which already protects Americans against sex and
“The effort to
transform the culture and the experience of aging in America is
quintessential and urgent,” concludes Dr. Butler. “Legislative
initiatives must be initiated at the local, state, and federal level
to provide legal protection against age discrimination. Ultimately,
they will benefit all who would grow old.”
To download the
complete report visit
http://www.ilcusa.org/news/story_aging.htm. To request a copy of
the publication please contact
The International Longevity Center-USA is a research policy organization
in New York City and has sister centers in Europe, Asia, Latin
America and Africa. Led by Dr. Robert N. Butler, a world renowned
physician specializing in geriatrics, the Center is a
non-for-profit, non-partisan organization with a staff of
economists, medical and health researchers, demographers and others
who study the impact of population aging on society. The ILC-USA
focuses on combating ageism, healthy aging, productive engagement
and the financing of old age. The ILC-USA is an independent
affiliate of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is incorporated as a
tax-exempt 501(c)(3) entity. More information on the ILC-USA can be
found at www.ilcusa.org