Nearly 2 out of 3 workers (61%) aged 45 or older have either seen or experienced workplace age discrimination, according to the results of the “Value of Experience” study carried out by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

The survey asked 3,900 people who were aged over 45 or older and who were either in work or unemployed and looking for work.

Of those who reported seeing or experiencing age discrimination, 91% say that it is “common”.

The AARP found that although older Americans are working because of financial necessity, they also want good work. They want roles that offer personal fulfilment, dignity and respect.

The survey revealed that participants believed they have suffered direct consequences at work because of their age.

  • 16% did not get a job they applied for
  • 12% were ignored for promotion
  • 7% had been laid off, fired or forced out of their job

For those in more precarious employment, 33 percent said they felt they were extra vulnerable because of their age.

Finding new employment was a concern for survey respondents. 76 percent said they believed age discrimination could mean it would take them longer than three months to find work (for analysis of age and time taken to find new employment following redundancy in the UK, see our statistics section).

More results of the survey

The AARP has published a collection of charts showing the results of its survey.

Some are shown below and the complete chartbook is available here.

When does age discrimination begin?

Have you reported age discrimination that you have seen or experienced?

Have you been asked your age during recruitment?


Almost a third of unemployed have been out of work for 3 or more years

Most work 1 job

But a significant proportion have multiple employers

Retirement status

Amongst retired people, 13% are still looking for work

What workplace culture characteristics do older workers want?

Caring responsibilities

The sandwich generation: many of those responding to the survey have to care for children and parents.


AARP’s "Employer Pledge Program"

In the US, AARP have developed the “Employer Pledge Program”. This now has 700 companies as members who have made a commitment to recruit people from all age groups and consider all applicants equally.

According to Susan Weinstock, vice president of financial resilience programming for AARP, “older workers are a great value to employers. Employers are looking for people with soft skills, like being good with teamwork or collaboration or being able to write well. These are skills older workers have developed through their years of experience.”

The methodology report in the AARP’s study is available here.