British Believe Old Age Starts Earlier than Other Europeans

Research from the University of Kent shows that British people believe on average that old age starts up to nine years earlier than the age suggested elsewhere in Europe.

The Predictors of Attitudes to Age Across Europe study shows that British people are described as ‘old’ far earlier than their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, with the label typically applied to those aged 59 or older.

By contrast, the French regarded old age as starting at 63, the Danish at 64 and the Greeks at 68.  Only in Turkey, where average life expectancy is 72, do people have a lower estimate of when old age starts, saying it begins at 55.

Some of the study’s other key findings included:

  • Regardless of their own age, respondents in countries with a higher proportion of older people were more positive towards old age, suggesting that societal attitudes shift as a population ages.
  • Older people’s status was perceived to be higher in countries that had later state pension ages.
  • Age discrimination was personally experienced by about a third of all the survey’s respondents, with the UK placed just below the average of the 28 countries involved in the survey.  Across all the countries surveyed just under half the respondents, including those from the UK, regarded age discrimination to be a serious, or very serious, issue.
  • Age discrimination was affected by a variety of individual characteristics: with ageism being experienced more by younger people who were less well educated, felt poorer, were not in paid employment or were living in urban areas.
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