How is age seen as privilege?
Age is the length of time that an individual has been alive. What is defined as young or old is often a matter of public opinion or defined legally in some nations. Age and perception of age brings different privileges at different stages of life. It’s influences are seen throughout personal and professional life, with different rules for different genders.

Why is age seen as a privilege?

Age is a double-edged sword when it comes to privilege and should be viewed as a factor with multiple facets of influence.

With age comes wisdom, experience, stability and therefore respect is warranted. However, it also brings a perception of resistance to change, loss of ability both physically and mentally, and being unable to ‘keep up’.

On the flip side, younger people are seen to lack experience and be immature, while also having the privilege of being perceived as adaptable, innovative and being physically attractive.

What is your privilege?

  • People never or do not assume that I’m technologically illiterate due to my age
  • Beauty products are not designed to avoid the signs of my current age
  • People never or do not talk down to me or patronise me because of my age
  • People never say “You’re too young to do that job”

Mature privilege

  • Experience and wisdom
  • Research says emotional stability increases with age
  • Crystalized intelligence, promoted by experiences such as reading comprehension increases with age

Youth privilege

  • Glorified in media, particularly for women
  • Adaptable to change and advances in technology
  • Perceptions of energy, fun, and endless opportunity for the future
  • Allowance for mistakes ‘still learning

Stats don’t lie

  • Age discrimination is the most common form of discrimination across Europe (Age UK: A Snapshot of Ageism in the UK and across Europe, Mar 2011)
  • Treatment rates drop disproportionately for people over 70 in areas such as surgery, chemo and talking therapies (Centre for Ageing Better, – Doddery but dear? Examining age-related stereotypes, Mar 2020)
  • Globally, depression is on of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents ( WHO: Adolescent Mental Health, Sep 2020)

What to do next?

Age privilege is also influenced by cultural differences and upbringing. Cultures in which intergenerational living in family life are seen to have the most positive associations with ageing. If you’re interested in starting a journey to overhaul this imbalance then join the Privilege Project today.

Watch the recorded session on Age privilege from our launch event.