Dublin, Sept. 7: Youth ends at 49 and old age begins at 65, according to the first comprehensive survey on ageism.
The perceived length of middle age is shrinking as people increasingly define others as either young or old.
Almost a third of those questioned said they had been treated unfairly because of their age during the previous year, making ageism the most common form of prejudice ahead of sexism or racism.
Dominic Abrams, professor of social psychology at the University of Kent, yesterday revealed the findings of How Ageist is Britain', a report compiled for Age Concern.
Abrams, who presented his research at the British Association Festival of Science in Dublin, said: “There are massive differences in people’s perception of when youth ends and when old age begins.
“If you are a 24-year-old man you believe old age begins at about 55. If you are a 62-year-old woman you think youth does not end until you are 57. As people get older they delay the age which they think of as getting old. Subjectively we tend to think we are still young.”
Abrams, who at 47 is still considered young according to his survey, said he had found that ageism was “the most common form and most pervasive form of prejudice experienced in the UK”.
“People of all ages experience ageism. We should not forget that young people are also the target of ageism. They feel aggrieved at people automatically seeing them as yobs.”