American Sociological Association

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? Neighborhood Age Composition and Age Discrimination

Age discrimination is pervasive in the United States, yet little is known about the social contexts in which it occurs. Older persons spend much of their time in their neighborhoods, where a density of other older persons may protect against age discrimination. Extending group density theory to age, we analyze data from 1,561 older adults from the second wave of the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States, using neighborhood-level data from the 2010 U.S. census. We examine (1) whether the concentration of older neighborhood residents influences perceived age discrimination and (2) whether that influence varies by age. Results indicate that the density of older residents protects against age discrimination for individuals entering old age but it is decreasingly influential as individuals approach oldest-old age and report less age discrimination regardless of neighborhood age composition. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory on age discrimination.


Stokes, J. E., Moorman, S. M.





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