Ageism is one of the remaining prejudices that go largely unchallenged in the 21st Century. Television and film often depict older adults as out of touch or mentally deteriorating. Unfortunately, these misperceptions can carry through to real life. Debunking these myths with facts is one of the first steps towards reducing ageism and getting to the truth about growing older.
Myth #1 Boomers take jobs away from younger generations.
Known as the “lump of labour fallacy” by economists, this false belief promotes the idea that the number of jobs in an economy is fixed. Evidence shows, however, that keeping older people in the workforce is associated with improved employment for younger people. When older people continue to work, they enjoy the benefits of having more money to spend boosting the economy, which in turn creates jobs for everyone.
Myth #2 The expiry date on productivity is 65. Older workers have less to offer as they age.
There is no relationship between age and job performance according to academic studies when it comes to productivity. In fact, experience is proven to give older adults the performance edge.
Myth #3 Younger entrepreneurs are more successful than older ones.
Research shows that not only do more older people start businesses but that these businesses are more successful on average.
The average and median age of US born tech founders was 39 when they started their companies. Twice as many were older than 50 as were younger than 25.
From 1996-2007, those between the ages of 55-64 had a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than their counterparts aged 20-34. Evidence proves that they are also more successful.
Myth #4 If time is taken off after retirement, it’s impossible to get back into the workforce
Approximately 40% of those who retire tend to take a break for 2 years and then return. The reason for returning to work is not always out of financial need but for the purpose of maintaining social interactions and keeping minds sharp.
62% of workers aged 65 and older are full time, up from 44% in 1995.
Myth #5 Boomers are unable to find decent jobs.
This cohort of baby boomers are succeeding at finding jobs with better pay, status and working conditions than older workers of generations in the past.
- Harvey Sterns, Journal of Vocational Behavior Volume 47, Issue 3, December 1995, Pages 248-268
- Kaufman Foundation, http://www.kauffman.org/microsites/state-of-the-field/topics/background-of-entrepreneurs/demographics/age
- Dane Strangler, Old and in the Fray: The Coming Entrepreneurship Boom, June 17, 2009, The American https://www.aei.org/publication/old-and-in-the-fray-the-coming-entrepreneurship-boom/
- Anne Tergesen, Five Myths about Landing a Good Job Later in Life, by Nov. 29, 2016, WSJ) https://www.wsj.com/articles/five-myths-about-landing-a-good-job-later-in-life-1480302842
- US Bureau of Labour Statistics