Age Discrimination Is More Common Than You Think

Jan 8, 2019 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

When you dive into popular literature on retirement, you could be forgiven for thinking there are hordes of Americans in their late 50s or early 60s desperate to leave the paid workforce as soon as they can. Blog posts and academic studies beg people to hold off on collecting Social Security until the age of 70, so they can maximize their benefits. Few listen. The most common age to file for Social Security is 62.

Why? Well, many of these people are not downscaling their professional lives or exiting the workforce entirely because they want to do so. They are likely victims of age discrimination. That’s the searing conclusion that can be drawn from a recently released joint Urban Institute-ProPublica analysis of data from the Social Security Administration and National Institute on Aging’s joint longitudinal Health and Retirement Study. The researchers behind the report found a majority of workers over the age of 50 are likely at some point to be shoved out of their jobs, either via an overt firing or resignation under pressure of demotions, loss of future benefits or deteriorating work conditions.

The damage to their bottom line is often permanent. When many find new positions, they are often jobs that are significantly below both their skill levels and previous pay grades, such as the former corporate executive ProPublica discovered working at a print shop, as a bartender and staffing the front desk at a local gym.

Surveys say a majority of Americans plan to work well past the traditional retirement age, with many claiming they will collect a paycheck till they drop. But then, well, something happens. According to AARP survey work, a large majority of employed Americans over the age of 45 say they’ve either been personally impacted by or known of age discrimination occurring at their job. We also know it takes people over 55 significantly longer to find a new position than it takes someone younger. Academic research demonstrates that employers are less likely to hire older workers, especially if those workers are women.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.


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