Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions


Index of documents > Reports and communications > Santander 09

Should it be surprising that Age Discrimination is once again cause for concern in our Group? Unfortunately that is the case: despite the EU-Members’ recommendations, the Elderly often face “age” prejudices.

This concern lasts since these prejudices and stereotypes are made official either openly through laws and regulations or implicitly by customs and traditions.

At the General Meetings held in Saccia and Albufeira, the Discrimination against the Elderly was approached from a Health, Social and Political perspective. This year, we are presenting the Economic approach. For sure, you will realize how some aspects of the Socio-political and Health Discrimination often lead to Economic Discrimination.

Economic Discrimination is based on a negative perception of demographic aging. The Elderly are frequently deemed to be unable to carry out difficult tasks or missions. This kind of assessment, this restrictive approach of old age is spreading in our society and the discrimination following from it is therefore considered as justified and rational.

Economic Discrimination is very much in evidence in every level. In fact, population ages and new challenges appear in our society, which entail new socioeconomic questions. Attitudes and traditional policies on essential matters as employment, training and education, the income sharing, the consumer goods and services, town planning, the offer and access to cares and treatments, as well as the access to public, cultural and family life are not always redefined on the basis of demographic change. But why does this happen? In order to tackle Economic Discrimination, leaders ought to think through fully, thus taking a comprehensive understanding and a new attitude toward the Elderly.  

A FEW EXAMPLES of daily Economic Discrimination against the Elderly:

On Employment and Continuing Education.

  1. In today’s society where life expectancy is a scientific success, individual capability no longer is connected to biological age. Therefore compulsory retirement means imposed discrimination. The U.N. World Assembly gathered in Madrid in 2002 took a stand on this matter. Quite often retirement is preceded by other forms of discrimination such as altering work tasks with a total lack of consideration, intimidation, humiliation, exclusion from promotions or from continuing education, in order to force the worker into early retirement.
  2. Concerning the job search, age discrimination is a frequent occurrence. An unemployed aged worker has great number of difficulties finding a job.  


On Education and access to knowledge.

  1. The Elderly do not have access to higher education.
  2. Permanent evolution in our society towards modernism and progress generates a new kind of discrimination: Some elderly are refused access to new technologies, owing to a lack of means and/or to a lack of additional training.


On financial services.

  1. Refusal of loans and/or higher guarantees.


On Insurances.

  1. Refusal of the reimbursement for the so called “comfort” drugs, which are not considered as necessary.
  2.  Some reimbursed benefits or assistance disappear after retirement.


On town planning and community life.

  1. Some private or public property Management organizations do not guarantee (or not properly) security and protection for elderly people. Sometimes this happens  owing to lack of resources, but mainly because of slackness.  This is an Economic Discrimination case: with a “hostile” environment made up of old buildings, which are unsuitable for mobility and unsafe concerning attacks, ill-treatments or even swindle.


On offer and access to cares and treatments.

  1. In some regions with a lack of hospital equipment, a costly specific medical treatment may be postponed if the patient is an elderly person. For instance: a young person will get an appointment for a scanner or an MRI before somebody in his or her eighties.  
  2. Admission into hospitals or care units, the services of which are inappropriate or not specialised because of a lack of gerontology and geriatrics staff.
  3. To send elderly people to inaccessible or unsuitable services.
  4. A trend towards considering a common fact the elderly people’s health problems. That means to deem or think an elderly person with health problems to be normal, and so, there is no need to treat an elderly as a younger person would be treated.


On social life.

  1. Likewise, there is Economic Discrimination in the way some public and private organizations manage, when they set an age limit in the board of directors (70 years in mutual insurance companies, 65 years in the social security administration and 70 years for judicial experts).


To wipe out discrimination is a real challenge. Long time is needed to achieve our goal…
Society must be aware of the fact that higher longevity is not a threat but the result of a great step forward in our society. Society does not really bear in mind how elderly people have been contributing.
 In the difficult current economic situation we all are being through, we forget the sociological evolution and the intergenerational relationships changes which follow from it. Elderly people face the social and financial problems of younger generations.
Their future contributions by means of intergenerational resources transfer, as well as education and base transfers, are nowadays ignored within the sphere of economics or are identified badly. Their great capability to commit themselves to help society is wasted by leaders. As a result, a Society for every age is just a mirage.

Jean Claude CHRETIEN