What is Ageism? It is age bias. We are used to thinking of biases, discriminations and stereotypes for issues like religion, ethnicity, skin color, gender, etc. but most of us do not know that discrimination can be based on the age of the person, or a certain age group is prevalent worldwide. There is a lack of awareness on this issue.


The term “Ageism” was created by Robert Neil Butler, M.D. in 1968 and at that time this was used to signify biases against older people, seniors and aging. However, this term is now widely used when speaking of discrimination against any age group. Plus, there are further classifications and subdivisions in the broader spectrum of Ageism. For example, there is Adultism, which would be the preference of adults and their thinking over the youth. The youth and children would be seen as immature citizens unable to contribute anything meaningful to the society. This is usually seen in electoral and governmental proceedings where the leadership is always awarded to people who have passed a certain age. This would be known as “Gerontocracy” or “Adultocracy” which means that the leadership of the nation would always be in the hands of senior citizens. Adult centrism is a more extreme form of Adultism.


On the other hand, Jeunism would be the inclination towards young people against the senior citizens. This phenomenon would be mostly observed in job selection (with the exception of vacancies in senior management) or in performing arts. The reason is that young people are more skillful, energetic, talented and beautiful. Young people would aware of the newest technology more than the adults, and if there were a lack of continued education in a country, most senior people would find it difficult to convince an employer.


Much of the awareness regarding Ageism in the United States was conducted by Dr. Butler and since the 1960s many laws have been passed to protect the American population for ageism. The Age Discrimination Employment act of 1967 protects citizens of age 40 and above from discrimination on employment. And for the youth, there is a National Commission to protect and advance their rights. These laws pertain to other areas of life as well, like the acquisition of property for example. In fact, in almost a dozen states, age bias is seen as a reason for crimes as well.