Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Internalised Ageism and Self-Exclusion: Does Feeling Old and Health Pessimism Make Individuals Want to Retire Early?

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Abstract:  An important current policy goal in many Western countries is for individuals to extend their working lives. Ageism has been identified as a possible threat to achieving this; furthermore, the ways in which ageism may affect this policy goal may have been underestimated. It has been claimed previously that ageism can be seen as discrimination against one’s future self and that a lifetime of internalising age stereotypes makes older people themselves believe the age stereotypes. The current article uses the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to assess the degree to which internalised ageism is related to one’s preferred retirement age. For internalised ageism, assessments are made about the degree to which individuals consider themselves to be old; they agree that their age prevents them from undertaking activities; they are pessimistic about their own future health and that being old comes with deteriorating health more generally. Results show that health pessimism especially affects one’s preferred retirement age negatively, even when controlling for current health and other factors, and mainly for middle-educated women. Implications are discussed.

Keywords:  ageism; educational level; gender; health pessimism; internalised ageism; older worker; retirement; retirement age; stereotypes; UK



© Mariska van der Horst. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.