Social Policy and Society


The Age Discrimination Debate in Britain: From the 1930s to the Present

John Macnicol a1
a1 Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics E-mail:

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Age discrimination has become a topical issue in Britain, and legislation is promised by the year 2006. It is often viewed as a recent problem, caused by the decline in older men's economic activity rates since the 1970s, by concerns over ageing populations in the future and by the need to extend working lives. Yet it has a long history, going back at least to the 1930s, with much research into older workers being conducted in 1950s Britain. Examination of this history helps us understand some of the difficulties inherent in the concepts of ageism and age discrimination.