The impact of age discrimination on the labor market


Sara Anguera. Age discrimination when looking for work is a problem that is increasingly affecting the population. Ageism refers specifically to the way we think (stereotypes), feel (prejudice) and act (discrimination) towards others or ourselves because of age and particularly affects people over 54 years of age.

When this definition is applied to jobs, ageism refers to a type of discrimination that can significantly impact the job search. This form of discrimination occurs when a person, be it an employee or an applicant, is disadvantaged because of their age.

Age discrimination in the workplace can lead to older people being excluded from the labor market despite their experience and skills. According to the World Health Organization, ageism and discrimination against older people can have a negative impact on their health and their access to resources and services. Negative attitudes towards age and ageism can cause older people to be perceived as a burden, which in turn can affect their self-esteem and emotional well-being.

Unemployment rates of various groups of the active population. Source: National Statistics Institute (INE)

If people over 55 were hired, 32,350 million euros more would be generated

However, it must be remembered that in Spain there is a law against this type of discrimination, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which makes discrimination against workers aged 40 and over illegal. , the exact rules and how they are interpreted are not always so clear to employees.

According to a survey conducted by AARP Research of 2,945 people over the age of 50, 91% of respondents said age discrimination against older workers is widespread in the workplace today.

In contrast, according to a study by the job portal Infojobs, more than 51% of the companies surveyed hire senior employees. One of the reasons why companies don’t hire people over 54 is because they believe that these people usually cost more money and are not as loyal because they are closer to retirement age than the rest.

Age discrimination, The job gain sites are particularly affected

On the other hand, one of the difficulties associated with age discrimination is that the older population is increasingly having difficulty finding work due to the portals used for recruitment. The selection process for new workers is increasingly carried out through sites such as InfoJobs, JobToday, etc. Sites that these older people are not so used to, making their selection process much more complicated and in many cases even older people decide not to use these sites.

At the same time, the offers are usually full of anglicisms that make it difficult to understand the position, or in other cases, companies are looking for people with professional experience but prefer to train young people who can work longer in the job. The company.

On the other hand, if you are one of the people who could be affected by this problem or know someone who could be affected by it, there are certain indicators that can help you identify whether there is age discrimination in the workplace or when looking for a job comes. new work.

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Advantages or disadvantages of hiring older workers

The study conducted by Infojobs also looks at the pros and cons that companies think about hiring someone over 55 years old.

Benefits of hiring older workers. Source: InfoJobs Senior Talent Hiring Report

On the one hand, one of the main reasons why companies prefer to hire people over 55 is that they have more professional experience (75% of companies surveyed). Another reason why companies prefer to hire older workers is the desire for greater job stability (69%), the lower impulsivity of these workers (49%) or the fact that they have professional contacts that could be beneficial to the company ( 41% among other things.

Barriers to hiring older workers. Source: InfoJobs Senior Talent Hiring Report

On the contrary, the companies surveyed also gave several reasons why they would not hire older employees. One of the main reasons is the digital divide of this group compared to young people (53% of companies surveyed), which exists due to greater resistance to change. Some of these workers (46%) need a higher salary than young people for other reasons, among others ( 33%).

There is also a gender difference in age discrimination

Additionally, another 18% said they were asked for age-related information, such as graduation date, on an application. Finally, 10% of respondents said they were not hired because of their age

On the other hand, other signs of ageism include being assigned to monotonous or routine tasks despite being capable of performing more demanding functions, or being the subject of excessive criticism or unwarranted scrutiny.

Likewise, there is also a gender gap in age discrimination, as in the same study by AARP Research, 72% of women between the ages of 45 and 74 believe that people face age discrimination in the workplace, while only 57% of men in the same age group share this perception.

When any of these situations occur, it is important to address the problem. You can speak to a trusted manager or contact the company’s human resources department to file a complaint. Additionally, if age discrimination is suspected, it may be helpful to seek legal advice to understand the rights and options available.

How can age discrimination be overcome when looking for a job?

Finally, to overcome age discrimination in job searches, various strategies and approaches can be implemented. For example, the promotion of active aging, which is presented as an opportunity to overcome stereotypes about older workers. This includes changing the cultural approach to aging and the role of older workers, as well as encouraging their active participation in the labor market.

On the other hand, valuing generational diversity can be a good idea when it comes to overcoming ageism or appreciating individual strengths. Regardless of whether you are looking for a job or want to change careers, it is important to take stock of your personal strengths and value them.

Another example of fighting this type of discrimination could be directly combating age discrimination. To overcome this challenge, you must confront ageism and not allow it to affect your job search.

These strategies aim to counteract the effects of age discrimination in job searches by promoting an inclusive work environment and valuing the contributions of workers of all ages.

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