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New Eurobarometer shows that the majority of Europeans believe that being over 55 is a disadvantage when applying for a job

New Eurobarometer shows that the majority of Europeans believe that being over 55 is a disadvantage when applying for a job © Ancesco Prepilli |

The European Commission published on 22 November 2012 a new Eurobarometer which looks into attitudes and perceptions of Europeans towards discrimination, based on different grounds (gender, ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity).

As the last Eurobarometer on this topic, published in 2009, this survey also includes several questions on the impact of the crisis on the implementation of anti-discrimination policies and efforts. New questions have been added to cover important or emerging topics, such as the situation of the Roma in Europe, discrimination outside the workplace or the links between discrimination and accessibility. Perceptions on discrimination against transsexual and transgender persons are also explored for the first time. 

The results of this Eurobarometer related to age discrimination highlight that the economic crisis is contributing to an increase of discrimination in the labour market, especially for older persons. Above two-third of Europeans (67%) believe the economic crisis is contributing to more discrimination against “older” workers (those aged over 55).

In 2012 over half of Europeans (54%) believe that a job applicant’s age is a disadvantage if they are over 55. Disability (40%), skin colour and ethnic origin (39%) are also seen as a disadvantage. 

According to the study, 45% of Europeans believe discrimination against people over 55 years old is widespread whereas discrimination on the grounds of being younger than 30 is seen as far less common: just 18% believe it is widespread.

“An indication that ‘old’ age discrimination is mainly seen as an employment issue is confirmed by the finding that many Europeans believe that equal opportunities in employment could be improved: many personal characteristics are thought to put applicants at a disadvantage in the recruitment process. Being over 55 years old is seen as the factor most likely to lead to a disadvantage”, states the Eurobarometer. 

Conducted by TNS Opinion & Social at the request of the European Commission, Directorate-General Justice, the survey was fielded in the 27 Member States of the European Union on 2-17 June 2012. Some 26,622 respondents from different social and demographic groups were interviewed.

The results of this Eurobarometer n° 393 are available in a final report and in national factsheets for all 27 Member States.