Perceived Age Discrimination Across Age in Europe: From an Ageing Society to a Society for All Ages

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Abstract

Ageism is recognized as a significant obstacle to older people’s well-being, but age discrimination against younger people has attracted less attention. We investigate levels of perceived age discrimination across early to late adulthood, using data from the European Social Survey (ESS), collected in 29 countries (N = 56,272). We test for approximate measurement invariance across countries. We use local structural equation modeling as well as moderated nonlinear factor analysis to test for measurement invariance across age as a continuous variable. Using models that account for the moderate degree of noninvariance, we find that younger people report experiencing the highest levels of age discrimination. We also find that national context substantially affects levels of ageism experienced among older respondents. The evidence highlights that more research is needed to address ageism in youth and across the life span, not just old adulthood. It also highlights the need to consider factors that differently contribute to forms of ageism experienced by people at different life stages and ages.

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