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Equivalence or difference

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Equivalence or difference

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									Equivalence or difference?
Revisiting the concept of age equality
Report of an Age Concern seminar June 2009

Contents
Introduction	 Executive	summary	 Full	report	of	seminar	 Keynote presentation: Colin Duncan Discussion Presentation of research findings: Sujata Ray Panel contributions Professor Sandra Fredman Sarah Stone Jaco Hoffman Discussion	 Speakers’	biographies	 2 3 7 7 9 9 0 0 2 3 5 17



Introduction
In January 2009, Age Concern held a seminar to explore the concept of age equality – with particular reference to older people. In June 2008, the government had announced its decision to introduce legislation to outlaw age discrimination in goods, facilities and services (GFS) as part of the Equality Bill; this development provided a clear political context for the seminar. The charity wished to clarify its thinking on the principles that should underpin exceptions to the general prohibition on age discrimination in the forthcoming Equality Bill. Under the title Equivalence or difference? Revisiting the concept of age equality, the seminar posed a series of linked questions:
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Should age equality be taken to mean age equivalence, so requiring age-based differences to be neutralised? On the other hand, does this notion of age equivalence make it more difficult to address the distinctive nature of disadvantage and prejudice experienced by older people? From the perspective of older people, should debate be focused more narrowly on old-age prejudice – and to what extent should we promote age-based interventions that favour this age group? Alternatively, would human rights – or ‘equal human dignity’ – provide a better framework for addressing old age prejudice?

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Participants included representatives from government and statutory organisations with an interest in age discrimination and older people’s issues, together with a number of academics. Representatives of voluntary sector organisations, trade unions, professional bodies and the business community also took part. This seminar in January took place two months before Age Concern and Help the Aged joined together to form a single new charity (April 2009). Reflecting the importance of this debate for older people, both charities were well represented at the event. This report, published by the new charity, gives a summary of the speakers’ presentations at the seminar and – on a non-attributed basis – discussion that followed the presentations. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Age Concern and Help the Aged. It may be freely quoted provided that the source is acknowledged.

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Executive summary
The seminar raised some challenging questions on the nature of age equality and age discrimination in relation to older people. Given the timing constraints, reaching a conclusion on these debates would have been an unrealistic goal, but participants said that they found the seminar both stimulating and useful nonetheless.

Colin Duncan, Edinburgh University Business School
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Colin argued that the concepts of age equality and ‘agelessness’ can lead to implications that old age should be feared and avoided. This potentially exacerbates old age prejudice – involving denial of personhood at its most extreme. There is a danger of the ideology of agelessness undermining the ideal of an adequately financed retirement as a ‘reward for work’, fostering in turn a myth that older people are a burden on society. When based on time-static comparisons, the ideal of intergenerational equity may exacerbate old age prejudice. A more useful concept may be ‘processional justice’ which looks at fairness across the life course and recognises that different age groups have diverse needs. The human rights principle of ‘equal human dignity’ recognises that different age groups may sometimes need unequal treatment. But progress with using this principle is hampered by the current limitations in age discrimination legislation and inadequate research methodologies. Arguments have been made for a new ‘third age’ as a period of activism and fulfilment for retired people. But notions of active ageing have instead been confined to promoting the extension of the second – ie, working – age. Overall, current anti-ageism agendas are in crisis. New thinking must recognise the limitations of age equality constructs and place greater emphasis upon fostering financial and social autonomy in older age.

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Sujata Ray, Age Concern England
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Sujata gave an overview of Age Concern’s research findings. Socio-psychological research showed that older people were the victims of ‘benevolent’ (or patronising) stereotyping – but positive contact with younger people can help overcome this. Compared to equality relating to gender or race, older people see ‘age equality’ as fundamentally different, because everyone grows older and age identity changes throughout the life course. The majority of older people agree that price concessions for pensioners are fair because of contributions made earlier in life and because everyone gets their turn as they grow older. Concessions are highly valued by older people, and age is viewed as a good criterion for receiving them. But older people make a distinction between concessions that are essential, and ones that are ‘nice to have’.

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Sandra Fredman, Professor of Law, Oxford University
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Sandra noted that ‘formal equality’, requiring everyone to be treated on their merits, was particularly problematic in the context of age. There are clearly situations when age is a reason to treat people differently. ‘Equality of results’, often encapsulated in the diversity approach, is also problematic because it is based on stereotypes of age – for example, assuming that younger people are more enthusiastic. Avoiding the pitfalls of these two approaches, a rich, four-dimensional understanding of age equality could be used, focusing on disadvantage; dignity (approaching this concept with some care); accommodation of difference; and participation/social inclusion. This richer concept should be enhanced by three other factors. First, age discrimination law must extend to goods and services; second, the law must include positive duties to promote equality of opportunity; and third, the legal framework must take account of intersectional discrimination.

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Sarah Stone, Deputy Commissioner for Older People in Wales
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Sarah agreed that equality could involve a more sophisticated approach than treating people the same. In addition, human rights have much to offer older people, as many see themselves losing power and control. The abuse of older people is an area where better legal protection is needed. The role of the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales is based on the UN Principles for Older Persons; her functions include challenging age discrimination. Older people have made it clear that ‘dignity’ is also very important to them – both as a principle and on a practical level. Threats to age-based concessions are not surprising – but this is not an ‘either/or’ question. In Wales, the underlying tone of the debate about long-term care has led many older people to think they are seen as a burden. The concept of ‘otherness’ is relevant to all equality strands. Sadly, old age is still seen as ‘other’, rather than representing part of our common humanity.

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Jaco Hoffman, Oxford Institute of Ageing, Oxford University
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Jaco focused on the experiences of older South Africans, for whom simplistic anti-ageism and equality arguments are problematic. Age markers are not always chronological; age may be determined by status, function or appearance. The identity of older persons in South Africa is closely linked to receipt of an old age pension at 60. Being a ‘pensioner’ commands respect. Frequently, roles are reversed, with older people supporting younger relatives and caring for HIV orphans – a second phase of parenthood. The health system suffers from multiple burdens, many HIV-related. The move away from age-specific services towards universal primary health care has deprioritised geriatric medicine. Equality has been confused with ‘sameness’. Legislation has helped to elevate age protection and new legislation will introduce ‘dignity’ for older people. However, the discourse of dignity has yet to be established, and it remains more rhetoric than reality.

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Discussion
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Seminar participants made a range of helpful and challenging contributions in response to the presentations. The importance of increased life expectancy was noted, and it was suggested that Colin’s critique of ‘agelessness’ was tilting at a non-existent windmill; different age groups are not identical – ie, they are not ‘ageless’. But people have equal rights regardless of age; for example, decisions about employment should be taken strictly on merit. An over-arching question seemed to be whether older age confers rights and entitlements. It was observed that older people’s views are split; some want fewer concessions and higher pensions, while others prefer concessions. The Equality Bill will give older people new rights, but people themselves must make the law effective. Potentially, attitudes can be changed through legislation. But will the Equality Bill tackle age discrimination in the right way?

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Full report of seminar
The discussion was chaired by Andrew	Harrop, Head of Policy at Age Concern England. Introducing the seminar, he noted that 2009 would be a critical year for older people in their campaign against age discrimination. Age Concern and Help the Aged were delighted that the government had risen to the challenge by promising measures under the forthcoming Equality Bill to outlaw age discrimination in goods and services, as well as a duty to promote age equality as part of an integrated public sector equality duty. However, detailed work lay ahead in drafting the legislation – and there was an unresolved question about dealing with exceptions and concessions giving benefits to particular age groups.

Keynote presentation: Colin Duncan
Colin Duncan, Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations at Edinburgh University Business School, presented a paper entitled Championing well-being in older age: dangers of age equality policies and the need for a new agenda. He argued that the concept of ageism, although originally rooted in concerns about the treatment of older people, has given way to age equality – an age neutral concept. This latter approach is reflected in both European and UK legislation on age discrimination in employment. Linked to age equality is the concept of agelessness, which sometimes extends to challenging the very existence of ‘old age’. This can actually help promote old age prejudice, presenting old age as something to be avoided and postponed. Old age prejudice is rooted in fear of ageing and is associated with decline, dependence and mortality. Compared to prejudice against younger people, old age prejudice is more intense because at its most extreme it can involve the denial of ‘personhood’. As the ageing process takes its inevitable toll, older people are forced into denying who they are, their sense of personal dignity giving way to self-loathing. The ideology of agelessness can also confer	legitimacy	on	unpopular	reforms, such as those that impose work obligations on older people, or undermine the ideal of an adequately financed retirement as a ‘reward for work’. This, in turn, encourages the attitude that older people are a burden on society – a short step away from suggesting that this burden is unaffordable. But in reality the decline in the economic support ratio – those in work compared to those who are not – is projected to reach no further than 960s levels by 20.

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Intergenerational	equity has become a highly politicised ideal. When based on ‘time static’ comparisons between generations, it is prone to facile analysis – which may exacerbate old age prejudice. Inequality within generations, along such lines as class and gender, may be more marked than those between generations. Attempts to achieve age equity could well exacerbate such inequalities; for example, the poor tend to die younger and may receive little accumulated pension. According to some commentators, a more useful concept is processional	justice, which looks at fairness over time and across the life course. This approach recognises that different age groups have specific needs, and thus that different treatment may not be unfair if each cohort benefits equally over a lifetime. In this respect, age inequality differs fundamentally from gender, race and other forms of discrimination, which are dealt with under UK discrimination law through a time-static framework. Colin went on to examine the concept of equal	human	dignity as a device for overcoming the limitations of the existing anti-discrimination legislation. This principle has origins in human rights discourse, and has made inroads into EU and UK equality legislation – for example, in the legal definition of harassment. It has also been used the Canadian and South African courts – possible models for a dignity-based equality jurisprudence. Under this approach, equal respect for the dignity of different age groups will sometimes involve different treatment, and must enhance rather than debase individuals. As Sandra Fredman has argued, equal human dignity involves moving beyond a complaints-based litigation model towards mainstreaming and enforcement of public sector duties. The importance	of	mainstreaming is underlined by the minimalist and reactive response to the Human Rights Act 998 by public services providing care for older people. However, progress on using human rights within the equality agenda is hampered by the absence of age discrimination legislation beyond employment; and by lack of research methodologies to measure and record violations of human dignity. Colin alluded approvingly to the work of the social historian and philosopher, Peter Laslett, who had promoted a powerful case for	a	new	third	age lying between the second age of work and family responsibilities and a fourth age of dependency and decline. This would help tackle old age prejudice by promoting a period of activism and fulfillment for older people outside employment, allowing them to adopt positive new roles- especially in relation to education and culture. However, Colin argued that Laslett’s ideas were both distorted by, and enlisted in support of, anti-ageism perspectives inimical to this vision and to the interests of many older people. Notions of active ageing and agelessness have instead been confined to promoting the extension of the second age, thereby reinforcing current public policy emphases upon work obligation and pension retrenchment Colin concluded by arguing that current anti-ageism agendas are in some crisis. Some new thinking is required, recognising the limitations of time-static approaches to age
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discrimination and placing greater emphasis on social, organisational and financial autonomy in old age. This raises several questions for public policy, including the best organisational approach to promoting independence, and whether there has been a misplaced emphasis upon policies supporting intergenerational solidarity.

Discussion
Contributions from seminar participants included the following:
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The paper deals with people in groups. It is unclear how this fits with a public services agenda that is moving towards individualisation and choice. The Equality Bill will create new rights and opportunities for older people – but it takes people themselves to make the new law work, or discrimination will persist. In relation to working lives, the paper overlooks factors such as increased life expectancy and labour market supply issues. The critique of ‘agelessness’ is tilting at a windmill that does not exist. Different age groups are not identical – ie, they are not ‘ageless’. But people have equal rights regardless of age; for example, decisions about employment should be taken strictly on merit – regardless of whether the worker is 25 or 75.

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In response to the last two points, Colin Duncan expressed the view that employment conditions do not allow older people to work as long as they want to because the demand for older workers is declining. Under the personal retirement fund model, older people enter their third age with some financial autonomy – arguably preferable to working as shelf-fillers. From an ideological (rather than personal) perspective, the notion of age neutrality has led to overlooking the labour market characteristics of older workers.

Presentation of research findings: Sujata Ray
Sujata Ray, research adviser at Age Concern, gave an overview of research findings exploring the nature of age-based prejudice and views on age equality issues and concessions for older people. In partnership with the University of Kent, Age Concern has developed ageism	 ‘benchmarking’	research based on social psychological theory, using a series of large scale surveys of approximately 2,000 respondents aged 6 and over. The 2006 survey confirmed earlier findings that perceptions of ‘youth’ and ‘old age’ are largely dependent on the age of the observer. Respondents aged between 6 and 2 were likely to think that youth ends and old age begins at much lower chronological ages than did

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those of 65+. Age-based identity also varies with age, with older and younger people having a stronger sense of belonging to their age group than those in middle age. The benchmarking research also found that older people tend to be seen as friendlier but less capable than other age groups, which is known as ‘benevolent’ or patronising stereotyping. Other groups seen in this way include women and people with disabilities. Positive contact (for example close, confiding friendships) between people over 70 and those from younger age groups can help tackle these stereotypes. In 2007, Age Concern England commissioned its	Lifestage	postal	survey of over 2,500 people aged 5 and over in the UK. Some 2 per cent of respondents said that they had experienced age discrimination in applying for jobs or buying insurance products over the previous five years. On the question of price concessions for pensioners, over three quarters of respondents agreed that these are fair because of contributions made earlier in life; the majority thought that concessions such as bus passes and free TV licences should be available to everyone on reaching 65, as opposed to only to those on low incomes. Finally, Sujata presented headline findings from recent	qualitative	research commissioned by Age Concern, conducted through three ‘deliberative’ workshops of 0 to 2 older people held in different parts of England. Participants in the research saw age equality as fundamentally different to race or gender equality. The key issue here was that everybody grows older and thus age groups and identities change throughout life. Age-based concessions were highly valued by all three groups – a view rooted partly in wanting to preserve the status quo. Participants expressed almost no negative feelings about receiving concessions – which they considered they had earned – or about the impact that concessionary treatment might have on how older people in general were viewed by the rest of society. However, a distinction was made between ‘essential’ concessions and those that are ‘nice to have’. Older age was viewed as a good criterion for concessions because of its correlation with a reduction in income through retirement. Participants rejected means testing of income or transition to retirement as criteria because they were more costly and complex to administer, also recognising a risk that some people would lose out. Using age as the criterion for applying concessions also recognised that everyone gets older eventually (processional justice) and that ‘everyone has paid into the system’.

Panel contribution: Professor Sandra Fredman
The first speaker in the panel session was Sandra Fredman, Professor of Law, Oxford University. Sandra agreed with much of Colin Duncan’s paper but argued that the problem lay in the way that equality has been understood rather than the principle of equality itself. It is only if we take a formal	view	of	equality that it appears that the goal of age discrimination legislation is to neutralise age, a goal which Colin Duncan rightly criticised. Formal equality is based on the Aristotelian maxim that likes should be treated

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alike. In its discrimination context, it means that each person should be treated on her own merits, regardless of her gender, race, religion, orientation, disability or, in our case, age. It is encapsulated in the legal prohibition on direct discrimination, which provides that an individual should not be treated less favourably on grounds of her age than another individual. However, in the context of age, this maxim is particularly problematic. If age is always an irrelevant characteristic, the implication seems to be that people of all ages should always be treated alike. Yet there are clearly occasions in which age should be a reason to treat people differently. It is also problematic because it assumes that merit is scientifically measurable and objective. Yet merit is itself a function of previous opportunities and advantages. We need a principle of equality which gives us a means to distinguish between invidious age distinctions and those which are legitimate and even necessary. This leads us to search for a concept of equality which does not neutralise age, but instead recognises that age may sometimes be relevant. One such approach is to focus on equality	of	results	or distributive equality. This is often encapsulated in the diversity approach, the argument being that it is good for business to have a diversity of employees. The problem with this approach is that it is itself based on stereotype of age – assuming that older people have, for example, more experience and younger people more enthusiasm. Diversity is also problematic because it can lead to maximum as well as minimum quotas. Instead of either formal equality or equality of results, Sandra argued for a four	 dimensional understanding of equality, which was sufficiently rich to achieve the gains desired by age equality legislation, but avoided the pitfalls of both formal equality and equality of results. The first dimension was to focus on disadvantage. Age discrimination legislation should not simply regard age as irrelevant, but should intervene when distinctions cause or aggravate disadvantage. Some distinctions will not aggravate disadvantage; and some will positively redress disadvantage. This dimension therefore allows us to prohibit invidious discrimination but to permit or even require age distinctions aimed at redressing disadvantage, which will most often lie with older people. The second dimension was that of dignity. Where distinctions are degrading or stigmatic, they would breach the equality principle. However, care needs to be taken with the concept of dignity. Dignity can be malleable: some have argued that it would be an affront to an individual’s dignity to remove mandatory retirement and to require older workers to be individually appraised; while others argue that mandatory retirement is an affront to dignity. The third dimension recognises that equality	does	not	mean	sameness: to be equal may well require very different treatment depending on an individual’s needs and capabilities. Thus instead of the same treatment, equality demands accommodation of difference. The final dimension of a rich concept of equality is that of participation and social inclusion. For example, Article 25 of the EU Charter states that older people have the right to participate in social and cultural life.



This richer concept of equality should be combined with three further factors. The first is to take a	holistic	approach	to	age	discrimination. It is not enough to focus only on employment: discrimination in employment is often and in part a result of other discrimination, such as in health care, education, and other services. It is therefore of seminal importance to extend the prohibition on age discrimination to goods, facilities and services. Secondly, as in other parts of discrimination law, age discrimination needs to move beyond sole reliance on the individual to litigate in court for individual remedies. It is important too to include age discrimination in the formulation of positive	duties to promote equality of opportunity. Finally, the intersection	between	different	forms	of	 discrimination must be kept in mind: for example older women are amongst the poorest in society. The legal framework should take account of this.

Panel contribution: Sarah Stone
The second panel speaker was Sarah Stone, Deputy Commissioner for Older People in Wales, who started by welcoming Colin’s paper. In her view, human	rights	have something significant to offer older people in addition to the equalities agenda, important though this is. Many older people see themselves losing power and control, or experience breaches of their human rights – for example, having to choose a care home without access to proper information or being separated from their partner by the residential care system. Equality does not mean treating everyone the same; it is possible to have a more sophisticated approach. The work of the Older	People’s	Commissioner	in	Wales is based on the UN Principles for Older Persons. The Commissioner has several functions, one of which is doing everything possible to challenge age	discrimination. Older people in Wales supported the idea of the Commissioner taking a strategic and principled approach to issues that affect them. When consulted, older people made it clear that they wanted the word	‘dignity’	 on the face of the legislation; as well as having theoretical and strategic meaning, it has practical meaning for older people on hospital wards, for example. In Wales, the Equality and Human Rights Commission is making it a priority to look at access to advocacy. The National Service Framework in Wales has made a commitment to rooting out age discrimination from health and social care – but much work is needed to determine what this really means. Sarah agreed with Colin’s suggestion that equalities	discourse	could	have	limitations	 in addressing the issues faced by older people. Threats to age-related concessions are not surprising – but we need to recognise that it is not an ‘either/or’ debate. The whole question of affordability had emerged in relation to the debate in Wales about the future of long-term care. The underlying tone of the debate is concerning to many older people, who felt as though they were being seen as a burden.

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The concept of equal	human	dignity is highly relevant to the work of the Older People’s Commissioner. The report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights into the human rights of older people in health care recognised the importance of human rights in both addressing and preventing abuse. Although it is important that test cases are taken through the courts, Sarah hoped that a heightened awareness of human rights would create an environment where legal challenge is less likely to be necessary. The abuse of older people is also a critical issue. In Scotland, adult protection legislation is already in place; this treats vulnerability as circumstantial, depending on the individual’s situation. The Law Commission for England and Wales has published a scoping report on reforming adult social care law, which recognises a need to improve and make more systematic statutory protection for safeguarding adults who are at risk. In concluding, Sarah noted that the concept of ‘otherness’ is relevant to all equality strands. Sadly, there is a real sense that old	age	is	still	seen	as	‘other’, rather than representing part of our common shared humanity.

Panel Contribution: Jaco Hoffman
The final contribution from Jaco Hoffman of the Oxford Institute of Ageing, University of Oxford, focused on the experiences of older South Africans. He observed that simplistic anti-ageism and equality arguments offer a highly problematic construct to address age discrimination in (South) Africa. It should be noted that in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) age	markers	are	not	always	 chronological, especially as chronological age is not always known. Someone’s ‘age’ may be determined by status, function or appearance. Chronological age only becomes relevant for the purposes of retirement and qualification for the means-tested, noncontributory pension. As only one of five countries in SSA with a non-contributory pension, identity of the majority of older persons in South Africa closely hinges on the receipt of a pension at the age of 60 – recently expanded to also include males who previously only became eligible at the age of 65. The	pensioner	identity	and	status is thus important and has implications for social, political and economic inclusion. (By way of background, Jaco noted that South Africa, with a population of 8 million, has an unemployment rate of 35.8 per cent and up to six million people living with AIDS. Over 60 per cent of HIV/AIDS-related vulnerable and orphaned children live with grandparents. People over 60 comprise 7.2 per cent of the population – 3.3 million in total.) Although the South African constitution ensures equality, in practice, anti-ageing arguments are somehow seen as ‘irrelevant’, if indeed even ‘wanted’ by the majority of older persons. Older people are identified by the fact that they receive the old age pension. They describe themselves as ‘pensioners’; a status that commands respect and in which they take pride. Old age is generally viewed by the
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majority of South Africans as a phase of life when people are expected to exit from the formal and informal labour market. Broadly speaking, the whole idea of a productive ‘Third Age’ in the formal labour context only appeals to a small minority of older persons in the higher socio-economic groupings. Colin Duncan’s paper deals primarily with conditions for older people in the labour market – but it is important to look at areas beyond the workplace as well. There is increasing recognition that the new third age incorporates the social	role	of	informal	 caring for HIV orphans – in fact, a second phase of parenthood by default. Roles are frequently reversed, with the younger generation financially dependent on older family members who have an old age pension – more than often not by choice but for the sake of survival. The health	system	in South Africa suffers from quadruple burdens: from conditions related to poverty; non-communicable diseases; a high rate of injuries; and infectious diseases and deaths – particularly HIV-related. The approach taken by the government is to move away from age-specific services (apart from children) in a bid to provide primary health services for all. However, this has caused older people to be submerged in the system and gerontology and geriatric medicine to be deprioritised. With less than ten registered geriatricians and thirty registered nurses with specific training in geriatric medicine and gerontology, the replacement of the Chair of Gerontology at the University of Cape Town with a Chair of Trauma and Emergency will add to the lack in capacity. Essentially, equality has been confused with ‘sameness’. In South Africa, there are a number of legal	instruments that protect human rights, including the 996 Constitution and Bill of Rights. The 2006 Older Persons Act will introduce ‘dignity’ for older people, but this concept has not yet been defined in the South African context. Colin Duncan’s presentation made reference to dignity being used in the jurisprudence of South African courts – but up to now, although legislation has helped to elevate age protection, there has been little progress with this in practice/ mindset, and it remains more rhetoric than reality. The discourse has yet to be established and structural progress has not moved along fast enough: ‘we are still waiting for a translator’! In SSA we are still at the stage of rights and entitlements of age specific groups. Contemporary	old	age	is	not	clearly	defined and boundaries are now being crossed with HIV/AIDS and its effects. It is suggested that the focus, anyhow, should be on dignity and



fairness at that intersection between vulnerabilities experienced by older persons, their contributions and human rights.

Discussion
Contributions from the floor included the following
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Help the Aged has carried out some work on measuring dignity in a health and social care context. Although it has been suggested that there are dangers of using ‘dignity’ because it is too vague a concept, a recent South African case discussed dignity in relation to housing rights. An over-arching question is whether older age confers rights and entitlements. If this is accepted, then it follows that there should be differences of treatment based on age. Older people’s views are split – some want fewer concessions but higher pensions. On the other hand, most older people love their free bus passes – and these are a cheaper option than raising pensions, because they cannot be exported from the UK. We need to distinguish between the educational role of rights and the operational side. In the Canadian ‘dignity’ case it is unclear whether the young people subjected to onerous workfare obligations had really suffered loss of dignity. It is possible to change attitudes through legislation, even if the legislation is imperfect; for example, the laws against drink-driving have helped change public opinion. For one participant, the discussion had raised the question of whether age is essentially a different equality dimension. It has a direction and an end – that is, death. Is there a danger that the Equality Bill will tackle age discrimination in the wrong way?

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In response, the speakers made concluding comments:
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Colin Duncan – we still need more research on what we mean by equal dignity. In his view, older age brings a diminution of rights and a reduction of personhood. It would be possible to have legislation specifically addressing old age discrimination – but could there be a danger of a backlash? Concessions are certainly problematic – they can sound patronising and undermine autonomy. Sarah Stone - in her experience, older people’s views are split; some want concessions, and some would prefer a higher pension. Although age is ‘different’ from other equality

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strands, it is also true that these other strands differ from each other. It is possible to ‘have your cake and eat it’ – that is, to have equality and differentiation at the same time.
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Sandra Fredman – there are dangers in legislation, but you can interpret the law in a way that is sympathetic to age, especially through the ‘positive duties’ approach, which represents the proactive and positive force of the law.

In his concluding remarks from the chair, Andrew Harrop noted that equal human dignity had been a common theme throughout the discussion. However, there remained some ‘unknowns’: what are the perceptions of age-based entitlements, and in particular what approach to the law would really work? He ended by thanking the speakers and participants for their contributions to the seminar.

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Speakers’ biographies
Colin	Duncan, B.Com, M.Phil, is Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations at the University of Edinburgh Business School. He entered academia following a ten-year public sector career in personnel and research in local government and the NHS. Research interests have been in the fields of pay determination, public sector employment relations, and over the last few years, in the area of age and employment. He has published widely on various aspects of ageism, including investigations into the business rationality of age discrimination; the interaction of age and gender discrimination; and the differential origins, incidence and nature of ageism as it affects different age groups. Andrew	Harrop was Head of Policy at Age Concern England at the time of the seminar. Previously a researcher at the New Policy Institute and a Research Assistant for a Labour MP, he joined Age Concern in 2003 and led the charity’s policy on employment and equality before becoming Head of Policy in 2006. He was responsible for influencing the Age Regulations and the new age discrimination provisions in the Equality Bill. He regularly speaks on older people’s issues at national conferences and on TV and radio. He has written numerous published reports and is also co-author of two books: Age Discrimination Handbook and Your Rights: Working After 50. He was educated at Cambridge, the London School of Economics and London Business School. Jaco	Hoffman is currently a James Martin Research Fellow in the Oxford Institute of Ageing (OIA) at the University of Oxford. A South African, he joined the OIA in 2006, and contributes to the development of the Institute’s focus on ageing in Africa through co-ordination of the African Research on Ageing Network (AFRAN), hosted by the University of Oxford. His current main research relates to intergenerational issues in Africa in general and in the context of HIV/AIDS in particular. He is President of the South African Gerontology Association and in this capacity, in collaboration with the South African Human Rights Commission, coordinated the establishment of the South African Older Person’s Forum. Sandra	Fredman is Professor of Law at Oxford University, Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2005. She has written widely on human rights, discrimination law, and labour law and was recently awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, leading to her most recent book, Human Rights Transformed: Positive Rights and Positive Duties (OUP, 2008). Previous books include Discrimination Law (OUP, 2002). With Sarah Spencer, she edited Age as an Equality Issue (Hart, 2003). She has acted as an expert advisor on equality issues and human rights in the EU, Northern Ireland, the UK and Canada; and is a barrister practising at Old Square Chambers.

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Sujata	Ray has been Research Adviser with the Policy Unit at Age Concern England since 2002 and she commissions, project-manages, and undertakes research to support the Unit’s work. Her extended experience of social research includes working in an academic setting, the NHS and the voluntary sector. She currently works in a cross-cutting team dealing with the wide range of public policy issues relevant to ageing and later life. Specific projects include population surveys of age discrimination, healthy lifestyles in later life, paying for long term care, older people’s attitudes to human rights, crime and the fear of crime. She is a member of the Social Research Association and the British Society of Gerontology. Sarah	Stone, Deputy Commissioner, Older People’s Commission for Wales, took up her position in November 2008. Previously she was Director of Policy and Public Affairs for Age Concern Cymru, leading its work to influence policy and practice affecting older people in Wales. She has been a member of the National Partnership Forum for Older People and the Third Sector Partnership Council. Sarah is a graduate of University College Cardiff and has an MSc in Social Policy from the University of Bristol. She worked on two Welsh Office funded ‘Good Old Age’ projects, including one for Age Concern Cardiff and the Vale; and has also worked for Cardiff and the Vale Parents Federation.

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Astral House, 268 London Road London SW6 ER T	020 8765 7200	F	020 8765 72 www.ageconcern.org.uk

207–22 Pentonville Road London N 9UZ T 020 7278  F 020 7278 6 www.helptheaged.org.uk

Age Concern England (charity number 2679) has merged with Help the Aged (charity number 272786) to form Age UK, a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England: registered office address 207–22 Pentonville Road, London, N 9UZ, company number 6825798, registered charity number 28267. Age Concern and Help the Aged are brands of Age UK. The three national Age Concerns in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have also merged with Help the Aged in these nations to form three registered charities: Age Scotland, Age NI, Age Cymru.

85_0509 Equivalence Report


								
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