Middle Age is Postponed for Nine Years
Reaching the grand old age of 40 used to signal the end of youth and the beginning of middle age. But a new survey has revealed that we have been given a reprieve - in the eyes of most Britons youth ends at 49.
It will come as good news to party-loving 40-somethings like Mel Gibson and Kim Catrall, but once middle age is finally reached the onset of doddering old age follows quickly after. Most people believe that old age commences at the age of 65 according to results of a survey carried out by the University of Kent.
The research also revealed that ageism is the most common sort of prejudice in the UK. In the world of work we are perfectly prepared to accept an older boss, but have less time for ageing employees.
About 70 per cent of those taking part in the survey said they would be happy with a suitably qualified boss over the age of 70.
On the other hand 47 per cent believed their employers did not like older people working for them. This view was shared by 38 per cent of younger people and 54 per cent of 65 to 74-year-olds.
The survey also revealed a lot of segregation between age groups. A total of 47 per cent of people over 70 said they had no friends under the age of 30. About half of people under 30 had no friends who were over 70.
Social psychologist Professor Dominic Abrams said research had shown that contact between different groups was the key to tackling prejudice. "Intergroup contact, positive relations across the generations, seems to be an important mechanism for combating stereotypes," he said.
"We need to guard against the sympathetic but patronising forms of ageism, treating older people as doddery but dear. Government legislation on equality and human rights needs to make sure that ageism is treated as seriously as the other forms of prejudice it is tackling."