Friday, January 14, 2022
Alan Gutterman (Ageism Project), Ageism, Race and Ethnicity, SSRN (2021):
23% of the persons in the US who were age 65 and over in 2017 (11.8 million) were members of racial or ethnic minority populations—9% were African-Americans (not Hispanic), 4% were Asian (not Hispanic), 0.5% were American Indian and Alaska Native (not Hispanic), 0.1% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, (not Hispanic) and 0.8% of persons age 65 and over identified themselves as being of two or more races. Racial and ethnic minority populations are projected to increase to 27.7 million in 2040 (34% of all older adults). The UN Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons has noted that “[a]ge and race combined create aggravating forms of discrimination and can cause an increased risk of dehumanization of older persons with minority ethnic background”. She reported that “racial and ethnic minority groups are more likely to enter old age in poorer health and at greater risk of vulnerability owing to chronic inequalities and widespread racial discrimination and exclusion” and that “[o]lder members of ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poorer quality, unsafe and overcrowded accommodation in severely deprived areas that have poor access to facilities, thereby maximizing loneliness and social exclusion”. The Independent Expert argued that systematic disparities at the intersection of ageism and racism are rarely addressed in policy and practice and that racism exists in care settings and older members of ethnic minorities experience worse conditions in employment, such as lower wages, longer hours, unsafe environments and higher risk of unemployment, all of which create additional risks for health and poverty in old age. This chapter describes minority rights in international human rights law and discusses the impact of the intersection of age, race and ethnicity on the lives and experiences of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and Indigenous Peoples in the US.