Perceived Age Discrimination: Implications for Mental Health and Life Satisfaction in Middle and Later Life—a Research Note

Abstract

This study examined the relationship between perceived age discrimination and subjective well-being in middle and later life in a Canadian context. Data were drawn from the 2013 Canadian General Social Survey Public Use Microdata File (N = 15,759 aged 45 and older). Ordered logit regression analyses addressed the main and interactive effects of age and perceived age discrimination on self-reported mental health and life satisfaction. Our analyses revealed a negative association between perceived age discrimination and both outcome measures. In addition, middle-aged adults were found to be more vulnerable than older adults to the negative mental health and well-being implications of perceived age discrimination. However, in gender-stratified models, this finding was observed among both men and women for mental health but only among women for life satisfaction. From these findings, we conclude that perceived age discrimination appears to be a risk factor when it comes to mental health and life satisfaction in middle and later life and appears to be particularly problematic for the subjective well-being of middle-aged adults.

Résumé

Cette étude examine la relation entre la discrimination perçue selon l'âge et le bien-être subjectif au milieu et à la fin de la vie dans un contexte canadien. Les données utilisées proviennent du fichier à grande diffusion de l'Enquête sociale générale de 2013 (N = 15 759 personnes de 45 ans et plus). Les modèles de régression logistique démontrent les effets principaux et interactifs de l'âge et de la perception de la discrimination fondée sur l'âge sur la santé mentale et la satisfaction à l'égard de la vie autodéclarées. Nos analyses révèlent une association négative entre la discrimination perçue selon l'âge et les mesures d'évaluation utilisées. De plus, les adultes d'âge moyen se sont révélés plus vulnérables que les adultes plus âgés aux répercussions négatives sur la santé mentale et le bien-être en conséquence de la discrimination perçue selon l'âge. Cependant, dans les modèles stratifiés par genre, ce résultat est observé chez les hommes et les femmes pour la santé mentale, mais seulement chez les femmes pour la satisfaction à l'égard de la vie. À partir de ces résultats, nous concluons que la discrimination perçue selon l'âge semble être un facteur de risque en ce qui concerne la santé mentale et la satisfaction à l'égard de la vie au milieu et à la fin de la vie et semble particulièrement problématique pour le bien-être subjectif des adultes d'âge moyen.

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Funding

This study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (grant number 435-2018-0262).

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Author notes

  1. Zheng Wu recently passed away. This paper is dedicated to his memory.

    • Zheng Wu
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Correspondence to Margaret J. Penning.

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This study complied with the University of Victoria’s Research Ethics Board, which does not require an internal institutional review for research projects using data in the public domain.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Browning, S.D., Penning, M.J. & Wu, Z. Perceived Age Discrimination: Implications for Mental Health and Life Satisfaction in Middle and Later Life—a Research Note. Can. Stud. Popul. 47, 245–262 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42650-020-00035-7

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Keywords

  • Ageism
  • Life satisfaction
  • Mental health
  • Midlife
  • Older adults
  • Perceived age discrimination