About Age Discrimination

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According to Stuart-Hamilton (2012), age-based discrimination occurs when someone of a given age is viewed unfavorably because of their age, in which case they may be deemed to be either too young or too old. Such therapy takes place as a result of the features associated with age or due to the actual age of the person in question. Age-based discrimination has been seen to not define a clearly demarcated group, in contrast to other forms of discrimination, such as gender or race. Almost all demographic groups are covered by this factor. Since age discrimination is based on a changing group, it should ideally be considered generally significant. This paper will address core issues of age discrimination such as in education, employment and employment-related areas, in healthcare, and rent or buying a house or unit.

Age Discrimination in Education

Simi and Matusitz (2016) pointed out that the adult undergraduates have come across a vast amount of neglect in regards to their learning styles and interests. Although universities and colleges have tried to fulfil the requirements of the adult learners, some institutions have closed them off in regards to public objectives and policies, making them more invisible. The older college students have coined the term “Non-traditional students” which is discrimination to generate a brand for a particular age group when higher education is for every individual. The older learners can be perpetrators and victims of age discrimination, and they may experience weird looks from students who are younger since they are not used to the age gaps that exist in higher education. The cultures in the university classroom time and again privilege textual meaning over the experiences of the working class, which are carried by many non-traditional students into the graduate classroom. This under-privileging generates a culture of oppression, which often marginalises the older students in the traditional classroom. Silencing the older learners as interlopers on established norms and referring to them as outsiders in the university culture is dehumanising.

Capuzzi and Gross (2013) argued that older students may need special assistance in balancing academic demands against family obligations and employment, and may experience difficulty accessing the services provided during typical class hours. As such, these students still face discrimination having their unique histories, erased and not acknowledged in the graduate programs. While in college, many of these students spend most of the time segregated from the resources of the institution. Compounding this reality, the older learners find their perspectives and experiences unwelcomed and not being honoured in and out of the campus by their student peers, staff, and faculty. This experience leaves most of them feeling dislocated in the school and may later extend to their workplace. Perpetuating the institutional discrimination of older students in the graduate programs has left many of these students at a continued disadvantage to the traditional students in the graduate milieus. As such, it crucial for the college and university staff to create and find more options that would enable them to engage the older students in, the higher education setting successfully. Also, it is the responsibilities of the colleges and universities to change the mental alienation and the discrimination of the older learners.

Age Discrimination when renting or buying a house or unit

Spencer (2009), highlighted that discrimination based on housing is challenging for the reason that most of the distinctions are commonly made in housing practice, policy, and laws, which influence identifiable groups such as older adults. In the second place, the sellers and the landlords time and again make distinctions based on efforts to mitigate risk and what they believe is prudent management. This, in turn, requires them to exercise some selectivity when they need existing tenants to leave or accepting new residents. There is potential for age discrimination in rental housing because the individuals in a position of authority, such as directors, owners or building managers of non-profit society boards have the capacity to exercise significant power over older adults who rent. The form of systematic discrimination against older citizens in rental housing is a global phenomenon. For instance, in the US, the 1975 federal Age Discrimination Act only covers the housing, which is publicly funded and not those that are privately owned. Furthermore, age is not included as a protected group in the federal Fair Housing Act.

Spencer (2009) further argued that the age discrimination, which is linked to housing, can be manifested in numerous ways. These include evicting an older adult and limiting or denying them to any benefit connected to the accommodation. Another way is by according them the lower order of precedence in any waiting or deferring their application for housing. Another way is by refusing the implementation of an older person based on the conditions on which they are offered the accommodation. The older adults are as well as the subject of direct discrimination. In this case, the managers in some seniors housing openly state they will not rent to those who are 85 years and above. They argue that this age group is more disabled or frail compared to their younger senior neighbours. Although age discrimination is definitely under the wider aspect of prohibiting discrimination, the aspect is not expressly banned based on age in the federal Fair Housing Acts (Portman & Stewart, 2015).

Frolik (2008) stated that in a rental property, the owner determines the extent as well as the nature of the age restriction. In most case, the tenant has no bargaining power as to the category of the restricted age. For this reason, it is crucial that a potential tenant should carefully evaluate a lease before signing it to see the type of age limits that are in effect. They should do this while keeping in mind that the landlord’s oral promises concerning the restriction of age cannot be trusted. Ideally, the age discrimination in regards to housing entails the owner telling an older person that the apartment or the house is not available, while in fact it has not been sold or rented. Another case is through discriminatory advertising, which entails oral statement or statement written in the newspaper that indicates limitations or preferences for a particular age group. Another instance is discrimination in conditions and terms. In this case, the older people are provided with different rules and conditions than their younger counterparts.

Age Discrimination in Healthcare

Smith et al. (2016) pointed out that age discrimination has been noted for some time in the USA healthcare system. On this note, the older citizens time and again are not given the most aggressive treatments for their medical issues as a consequence of their age. Many of them are not recommended preventive care or receive proper screening tests, and they are often underrepresented in clinical research. Besides, beyond the USA, age discrimination in the healthcare setting is as well prevalent across cultures and nations. Moreover, in the healthcare environment, age discrimination is depicted in various forms. These include forced decisions, paternalism and making decisions concerning the quality of lives of the older people. Other cases include age rationing and age-based decision-making in the healthcare as well as the absence of services for seniors. Besides, age discrimination can be evident in the respective burdens of the partner or spouse and the individual as well as in the allocation of healthcare resources.

Also, at both the fundamental level and personal level, it has been established that the older citizens are time and again treated differently in the healthcare setting. For instance, the clinicians often provide the elderly with treatment that is inadequate. They provide the younger patients with more detailed medical information as well as more support and respect. The physicians also solicit more information from the younger patients compared to the older ones. At a practical level, age discrimination entails taking the symptoms and complaints of the older person less seriously. Moreover, they connect their conditions to old age or withhold treatment, services, or information. What is more, rehabilitation and prevention are likely to be perceived as less significant with advancing age, and the physicians may feel that the limits of age for the access to medical services are justifiable and acceptable. In regards to variation, inequality, and unfairness in the health care practice, legitimate reasons, which are not linked to age, such as the ability to survive a treatment and the underlying condition can make some distinctions between the younger people and the older ones. This makes the same terms between the age groups justifiable, yet it is always critical to test the underlying assumption (Spencer, 2009).

According to Lievesley (2009), the influence of discrimination that is related to age in the healthcare setting are tangible and, discrimination is a stressor to life. The older citizens who report being discriminated also go through mental health issues. This aspect is manifested within any healthcare and at any stage. Although some forms of age discrimination are directed to the older adults directly, others are structural, influencing the elderly as well as those who support and care for them. Moreover, the elderly are less likely to be referred for treatment and screening. Another issue is that the health care providers tend to assume that the old will not benefit from certain therapies, rather than inquire from other clinical evidence or find out from research whether that is the case.

Age Discrimination in Employment and Employment Related Areas

McCann (2003) pointed out that in the workplace, age discrimination transpires when the administrators apply age as a determining factor in decisions that are connected to employment. This means that an applicant may be denied employment by the manager based on age. Similarly, other cases of age discrimination transpire when an employee is rejected promotion, training, or any other opportunity as a consequence of their age. The most common stereotype that leads to age discrimination includes, the elderly not wanting to work because they want to retire early as well as that the older workers are more rigid than, the younger ones and they are less adaptable. Other stereotypes that lead to age discrimination include the older workers being perceived to be more expensive than the younger ones and that they are also less productive when compared to the younger ones.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (2010), highlighted that based on age recruitment is deep-rooted through ageism, which is evident globally whereby it doesn’t just exist, it strives. The ageist culture seems to be largely unacknowledged, accepted, and invisible within the workplace. The attitude that the recruiters and the employers may hold in regards to the mature age workers are reinforced by and reflected in the negative attitude to older age that is experienced in the general community. Within the workplace setting, the elderly can be discriminated as offering more limited returns or being in decline, too dependent, and unable to learn new skills. In the course of recruitment, there is unlawful age discrimination, which is described as systematic and rampant. This is also where the administrators apply age most extensively to differentiate the applicants. Additionally, some organisations may prefer to employ workers who are younger so as to ensure that their authority or power lines are kept clear.

James, Kelly, and Blondin (2015), stated that the older workers are discriminated based on their age because they are perceived to be more often off the job due to illness. Moreover, the elderly are seen to be a poor investment for the reason that, they are closer to retirement, which means that they do not stay long in their positions. The discrimination against the older workers has long been a widespread practice of organisations in America. Nearly all retired workers have suffered the consequences of an aged-biased action linked to employment at some point in the course of their career. Despite the numerous laws barring discrimination based on age in the workplace, the old workers are subjected to stereotypical notions concerning the mental and physical capabilities of the older workers. The older employees are as well subjected to adverse decisions of employment. Therefore, these workers are often terminated, denied promotion, or are otherwise influenced by decision-based on their age. Moreover, they are routinely ushered into earlier than planned retirement (Gregory, 2001).

Moreover, the age discrimination in the workplace occurs in the conditions and terminations of employment, in transfer and promotion opportunities, during the process of recruitment and selection, and when advertising jobs. The examples of age discrimination in the workplace include bullying or harassing an individual because of the age as well as forcing someone to retire, due to their age, or making choices around redundancy. Another instance is whereby an organisation refuses to employ younger workforce for the reason that they assume that they will quickly move to another employment. An additional case of discrimination is whereby a business may refuse to hire a particular individual for the reason that they assume they will not fit with other workers because of their age.


A thorough understanding and analysis of age discrimination are vital. A rapidly ageing population in various industrialised countries, including the US, threatens to magnify any distortions or costs or to vastly increase the social costs of the discriminatory obstructions to old employees. The age discrimination legislation at both the federal and state level, such as the ADEA, which is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act needs to be implemented so as trim down the concept (Neumark, 2003). This includes cutting down age discrimination in areas such as education, employment and employment-related areas, in healthcare, and rent or buying a house or unit.


Australian Human Rights Commission. (2010). Age discrimination–exposing the hidden barrier for mature age workers. Australian Human Rights Commission, Sydney.

Capuzzi, D., & Gross, D. R. (2013). Introduction to the Counseling Profession. Routledge.

Frolik, L. A. (2008). Residence options for older and disabled clients. Chicago, IL: American Bar Association.

Gregory, R. F. (2001). Age discrimination in the American workplace: old at a young age. New Brunswick, etc.: Rutgers University.

James, K., Kelly, R., & Blondin, A. (2015). Age Discrimination, Inclusive Design, and Older Workers. In Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Employment Conference, paper (Vol. 4).

Lievesley, N. (2009). Ageism and age discrimination in secondary health care in the United Kingdom. A review from the literature carried out on behalf of the Department of Health. Centre for Policy on Ageing.

McCann, L. (2003). Age discrimination in employment legislation in the United States experience. AARP Foundation Litigation.

Neumark, D. (2003). Age discrimination legislation in the United States. Contemporary Economic Policy, 21(3), 297-317.

Portman, J., & Stewart, M. (2015). Every tenants legal guide. Berkeley, CA: Nolo.

Simi, D., & Matusitz, J. (2016). Ageism Against Older US College Students: A View from Social Closure Theory. Interchange, 47(4), 391-408.

Smith, M. L., Bergeron, C. D., Cowart, C., Ahn, S., Towne, S. D., Ory, M. G., ... & Chaney, J. D. (2016). Factors associated with ageist attitudes among college students. Geriatrics & Gerontology International.

Spencer, C. (2009). Ageism and the law: emerging concepts and practices in housing and health. Final report. Toronto: Law Commission of Ontario.

Stuart-Hamilton, I. (2012). The Psychology of Ageing: An Introduction. London: Jessica Kingsley.

March 15, 2023

Health Social Issues


Aging Human Rights

Subject area:

Ageism Discrimination Old Age

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Expertise Old Age
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