Youthink! The World Bank's blog for youth
Syndicate content

Age Is Nothing but a Number: Bridging the Gap between the Young and the Old

Viva Dadwal's picture
Does this sound familiar?
 
“Why are young people so loud, lazy, and destructive?”
 
“We’re looking for a more mature candidate to handle this job.”
 
Now, what about this?
 
“Why are old people so boring, slow, and angry all the time?”
 
“We need young, dynamic graduates with energy to join our team.”

 
According to UN Data, the world is growing older. Youth unemployment is worsening. And soon, in many countries, fewer and fewer working-age people will be supporting more dependents. These trends will have significant implications for domestic and global issues, including labor market participation, health service delivery, and economic growth, to name a few.
In light of these interconnected challenges, one thing that both young and old must learn to agree on is that they are two sides of the same coin. In the 21st century, among all the other global problems and issues, your age should be seen as an advantage, not a liability.

Ageism is described as the stereotyping of, and discrimination against, individuals or groups because of their age. Although ageism is said to be neither overt nor easily measured, it is estimated to be the most widely experienced form of discrimination in Europe, across all age groups. In the United States, statistics from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission show that age discrimination lawsuits are on the rise.

Too often, ageism serves as a social divider between young and old. While ageism doesn’t seem to capture the same level of public attention as racism and sexism, it can have the same adverse impact – economically, socially, and psychologically – as any other form of discrimination. For example, stereotypes and misperceptions about age and aging limit the potential of people, both young and old. These effects, including those perceived, can prevent individuals from becoming full participants in society.

Unlike the somewhat more distinct qualities of gender and race, age is a continuum and a highly individual experience. It is not possible to generalize about the skills and abilities of a younger person based on age, any more than it is possible to make assumptions about an older person – or anyone else based on any other aspect of their identity. Indeed, combating ageism requires a positive view of aging and the acceptance and understanding of the dynamics of an aging society.

“Everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn.” – Desmond Tutu

Young and older people together have made – and will make – contributions to our society. Some surveys have found a great deal of symbiosis between working generations, including the recognition that each generation is valuable in its own right. Legislation has an important role to play in combating ageism, but so does public awareness and increasing genuine intergenerational contact. Social vehicles such as intergenerational programs, multi-generational housing, and volunteering can help to dispel age-related myths and stereotypes by bringing different generations together around issues of shared civic importance.
 
Together, we need to reinvent our assumptions of age: to break stereotypes and develop new models of ageing for the 21st century.

Comments

Submitted by Twaki David Haruna on

Th issue of ageism has to do with our mentality, mindset and perception,which has to be corrected via intergenerational programs,seminar,symposium,media outreaches and leglislation
Ageism is a prejudice or discriminition on the ground of age,which has to do with number. And to some extent it has nothing to do one's level of output and productivity in handling responsilities in the society either economically or socially. Because our output and productivity as an individual is function of mind and skill development. For example there are young people who are energetic with functionable mind but are not contributing to the development of the society, where by there are some that are contributing to the society, vice versa to the older people. Therefore the issue of ageism must be corrected by changing our mindset. Both the younger and the older people must work together for the maximum and efficient development of our society inorder to solve the problem of poverty, inequality and other socioeconomic problem. And I quote according to a renouned scholar and an elder stateman in Nigeria Alhaji Aminu Maitama Sule,he said "the young breed without the old breed will breed greed" so us to be able to overcome greed that is the root cause of our societal problems such as poverty, inequality,low productivity etc. Therefore younger people must work with the older people to gain experience and the older people must work with the younger people inorder to use their strenght, sharp minds and capacity to acheive the set goals that will bring about a positive transformation and development to the society via poverty and inequality alliviation.

Add new comment