Page last updated at 23:15 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 00:15 UK

Youth 'ends at 45' says research

Young people and a pensioner
The study analysed various surveys about age

US actress Billie Burke is reported to have said that "age is something that does not matter unless you are a cheese".

However, an analysis of attitudes to ageing in the UK has suggested that youth ends at the age of 45.

Old age, according to respondents in several surveys, starts at 63 years of age - leaving 18 years of middle age.

The Department for Work and Pensions research studied the implications of age on equality and social cohesion.


The study considered five national surveys conducted between 2004 and 2008, with more than 6,000 respondents in total.

Nearly a quarter of respondents believed that people over 70 take out more from the economy than they put in
Department for Work and Pensions report

The findings showed that people's consideration of age differed when referring to themselves.

By their mid-30s, most respondents stopped describing themselves as young, and only by their mid-70s did they start calling themselves old.

There was some good news for the older generation, with more people saying they were more comfortable with a boss aged over 70 than with somebody under 30 being in charge at work.

But 26% of those asked said they had experienced ageism. This was not just the retired, but also those who were not working or who were not married.

Stereotyping meant that people aged over 70 were viewed as more likely to be pitied, and also were considered an "economic threat" by some.

"Nearly a quarter of respondents believed that people over 70 take out more from the economy than they put in," the report said.

However, this was less of an issue for people living in Yorkshire and the Humber than anywhere else in the UK.

Stress levels

The analysis found that people in the south-east of England were more likely to have experienced ageism.

This could affect the young and the old, the report concluded, and it also found that there was relatively little mixing between the age groups.

With people delaying their acceptance of being "old" as they went through life, the authors argued that there was evidence of people delaying the preparation for later life.

Separate research led by Amanda Griffiths, professor of occupational health psychology at the University of Nottingham, found that stress levels at work peaked at about 50 to 55 years old and decreased in the years approaching retirement.

"Work-related stress is thought to be responsible for more lost working days than any other cause," she said.

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