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Ageism and perceived job sustainability: a comparative European analysis

Mengyang Zhang (Department of Health, Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative, Dublin, Ireland)
Sarah Gibney (Department of Health, Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative, Dublin, Ireland)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 11 December 2019

Issue publication date: 17 July 2020




The purpose of this paper is to explore the association between experiencing ageism in the workplace and working conditions on perceived job sustainability among current workers aged 40 and over in Europe, within the context of positive and active ageing strategies and programmes.


Data are from the 6th round of the European Working Conditions Survey (n=22,229), and the analytical sample contains adults aged 40 and older in 28 European Member States grouped by employment regime: social-democratic regime, corporatist regime, liberal regime, Southern European regime, post-socialist corporatist regime and post-socialist liberal regime. Perceived job sustainability estimated based on whether the respondent thinks (yes/no) that they can do their current job or similar role until the age of 60 or in next five years if the respondent is aged 56 and over. Experience of ageism in the workplace (yes/no) is self-reported. Generalised structural equation modelling was used to control for both individual- and organisational-level influences and to correct for potential endogeneity in estimating the impact of experienced ageism on perceived job sustainability. In addition, employment regimes are included in the model to investigate differences in this relationship by setting.


Adults who have not experienced ageism are more likely to have positive perceptions of job sustainability, net of other factors and employment regime. Job sustainability is positively associated with age, being male, being in good health status and higher levels of work satisfaction.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitation of this study is that data are cross-sectional, and time variant factors and individual fixed characteristics are excluded from the estimation. The results are influenced by the self-reported data about experienced ageism and evaluation of workplace environment, which may lead to potential endogeneity caused by unobservable personal characteristics such as personality type.


Although the average reported prevalence of ageism in the workplace is 3.4 per cent across the 28 European Union Member States, this study shows that ageism imposes significant negative influence on current workers. This study has highlighted the interrelationship between ageism, workplace satisfaction and job sustainability in this comparative setting. Efforts to reduce ageism in the workplace are likely to lead to improved working conditions and job sustainability.



Zhang, M. and Gibney, S. (2020), "Ageism and perceived job sustainability: a comparative European analysis", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 41 No. 5, pp. 551-565.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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