Research by Anglia Ruskin University and Cyprus University shows that job seekers aged 50-years-old or more are up to three times less likely to be selected for an interview compared to younger applicants with less relevant experience.

Professor Nick Drydakis, Dr Anna Paraskevopoulou of the School of Business and Law, Anglia Ruskin University, and Dr Vasiliki Bozani of Economics Research Centre, University of Cyprus, applied for 811 sales and service jobs in England using fake applications from fictional individuals.

These fake individuals varied in terms of experience, age, gender and race. The CVs all set out these attributes clearly on the application form. All applications said that individuals were currently employed and kept both education and hobbies equal for all applications.

Study reveals age and race intersection

The study found that 28 year old white men were:

  • 3 times more likely to be selected than a 50 year-old black woman

  • 2.6 times more likely to be selected than a 50 year-old black man

  • 2.3 times more likely to be selected than a 50 year-old white woman

  • 1.8 times more likely to be selected than a 50 year-old white man

The jobs for which these young men were selected tended to be paid more highly, with an average salary of £19,863.

The researchers behind this study suggest that employers should ensure that, when recruiting for roles, they not only encourage applications from older individuals but also ensure that the applications will be considered fairly.

Despite the growing participation of older workers in the labour market, many employers are prejudiced against older workers. Older applicants might not receive invitations for an interview, or they might receive invitations to interview for lower-paid jobs. The results of this study also showed that this ageism was worse for older black men and much worse for older black women. These results originate from stereotypical beliefs that the physical strengths and job performance decline with age, and earlier among women than men. They are also in line with general and persistent racial prejudices. This study shows how much work is still needed to address age bias in the labour market. The existence of age, gender and racial bias in the workplace could have serious consequences for society as a whole and the individuals affected.
— Dr Anna Paraskevopoulou of the School of Business and Law, Anglia Ruskin University

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