Department for Work and Pensions
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Publication of DWP working paper 90: measuring attitudes to age in Britain: reliability and validity of the indicators

Research published today reports on the development of a new, reliable and short set of indicators to measure attitudes to age in nationally representative surveys. The basis for this work was the detailed analysis of two data sources used to measure attitudes to age and experiences of ageism in Britain, with the aim of understanding in greater detail how well these data sources captured this information.

The analysis identified nine key concepts of age attitudes and experience, which the new indicator set will provide data on in a more efficient and statistically valid way:

  • perceived permeability of age categories and boundaries
  • perceived status of age categories
  • social distance
  • perceived threat of age categories
  • stereotype content associated with age categories
  • direct prejudice towards age groups
  • experience of  discrimination
  • contact with different age categories, and
  • seriousness of prejudice.

The use of the indicator set that measures these concepts, in future surveys, will provide comparative evidence that will enable tracking both over time (as the population ages) and also comparative analyses against recent earlier research both within the UK and across Europe.

Notes to Editors:

  1. DWP Working Paper 90 ‘Measuring Attitudes to Age in Britain - Reliability and Validity of the Indicators’ is available on the DWP Website:
  2. The authors are Christin-Melanie Vauclair, Dominic Abrams, and Christopher Bratt from the Centre for the Study of Group Processes, Department of Psychology, University of Kent.
  3. The report contains analysis of data from 55 indicators of attitudes to age from the European Social Survey up to 2009. It demonstrates how these indicators were developed into a smaller, statistically reliable and robust indicator set to monitor attitudes to age in a more efficient way    moving forward.

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