Age bias and discrimination are widespread around the world, affecting millions of people, old and young, trying to work and seek healthcare, new UN report says
“Its main message is that we can and must prevent ageism and that even small changes in the way we think, feel and act in the face of age and aging will benefit individuals and societies,” said UN health, human rights, economics and health officials. of Social Affairs and Population in a preface to the report.
The Global Ageism Report cites a survey published last year of 83,034 people in 57 countries that found half of people held “moderately or strongly ageist attitudes”.
According to the survey conducted by researchers from the World Health Organization, the University of Oxford and the University of Southern California published by the Swiss company MDPI, the characteristics significantly associated with those who have high anti-ageist attitudes were younger age, male gender, and lower education level.
“Ageism towards young and old is widespread, unrecognized, unchallenged and has profound consequences for our economies and societies,” said Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Deputy Secretary General in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
The 202-page report says the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed just how widespread ageism is – older and younger people have been stereotyped in public discourse and on social media, and in some cases , age was used as the sole criterion for access to medical care and life-saving therapies and physical isolation.
According to the report, health care rationing based solely on age is widespread. He cited a review in 2020 showing that in 85% of 149 studies, age determined who received certain medical procedures or treatments.
“As countries seek to recover from the pandemic and rebuild, we cannot let age-based stereotypes, biases and discrimination limit opportunities to ensure health, well-being and security. dignity of people everywhere,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The report says that older and younger adults are often disadvantaged in the workplace and that access to specialist training and education decreases dramatically with age.
Young people also face discrimination in employment, health, housing and politics where their voice is often denied or rejected, he said.
As for the costs, the report cites a 2020 study in the United States showing that negative age stereotypes and self-perceptions lead to annual excess costs of $63 billion for the eight most common health conditions. expensive. He said estimates in Australia suggest that if 5% of people over the age of 55 or over were employed, there would be a positive impact of 48 billion Australian dollars ($37 billion) on the national economy each year.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said ageism is often “so pervasive and accepted – in our attitudes and in policies, laws and institutions – that we don’t even recognize its harmful effects on our dignity and our rights”.
“We must fight head-on against ageism, as a deep-rooted violation of human rights,” she said.