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Awareness study Researchers target old age discrimination

Elderly woman knitting and a walking frame

Life expectancy has risen to 85 for women and 81 for men in Switzerland over the past two decades.


A team of Swiss scientists is planning to launch a research programme to raise awareness of old age discrimination.

Christian Maggiori of the Fribourg school of social work says elderly people in Europe, including Switzerland, are more often subject to discrimination than any other group of people, notably from other cultures or gender-related reasons.

In an interview with the La Liberté newspaper, Maggioriexternal link said 28% of respondents in Switzerland said they had been the victims of unfair treatment by others last year.

This compares with 22% and 12% respectively who suffered gender or race-related discrimination.

“In the health sector, 30% of respondents over the age of 70 said they felt they were treated unfairly because of their age,” Maggiori is quoted as saying.

The reasons are financial and a lack of legal protection, he says.

Maggiori is preparing an interdisciplinary research project notably among children aged 4-5 to raise awareness of the issue and combat a stereotypical perception of elderly people.

“At this age people start forming stereotypes. And when a person turns old, he or she applies this categories to him and herself. This can have a harmful impact on the well-being and reduce life expectancy by up to seven years,” said Maggiori.

At a political level, moves are afoot to challenge age-related unfair dismissals and to call for more considerate job ads.

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