Children’s attitudes towards old age: findings from the Kids Life and Times Survey 2015

Dr Gemma M. Carney and Dr Paula Devine (QUB)

Mindful of Northern Ireland’s history of religious and ethnic segregation, this paper investigates another, more prevalent form of segregation: age segregation. Public policy tends to divide people into age groups by virtue of the ‘natural’ association of childhood with schooling, middle age with work and old age with retirement. Leading scholars have argued that this age segregation can lead to absence of mutual understanding between generations, arguing that age segregation is a root cause of ageist social attitudes (Hagestad and Uhlenberg, 2006). This contention has not been tested, and as a result, little is known about what children think about ageing and older people. For these reasons, questions about ageing and older people were included in the 2014 Kids’ Life and Times (KLT) Survey, exploring the opinions of 10 and 11 years olds to ageing and ageism. We report the views of 4,757 10 and 11-year-old children, living in Northern Ireland. We present some timely and significant results which offer new research questions for policy-makers interested in how population ageing affects all age groups, particularly when societies are segregated along age lines.

[Policy Briefing] [Presentation]