SOC 2390 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Car Rental, Vehicle Insurance, Ageism

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SOC 2390: Lecture Notes: November 12th: Age and Ability
Age
We all age! Age is a curious category as an inequality measure because
We all do it; the chronological aging process is the same for everyone
It is not a characteristic shared with a limited number of others
We have absolutely no control over it (unlike education and income, we have at least, some
control)
Age is criterion for classifying and ranking people socially.
So how/why does it relate to inequality?
There are age-related normative and cultural expectations
E.g., owning a house
Generational opportunities and challenges
E.g., health care needs of aging population
Your age (age of cohort) corresponds with vulnerabilities at certain life stages
E.g., higher youth unemployment rates
Age is a factor in accumulating advantages or disadvantages
Exampleshow can age relate to accumulating advantages or disadvantages in society
Car insurancethe older you get, the less expensive your car insurance is
Work experienceas you age and build experience, you get better jobs
Employmentseniority
Building assets—i.e., if you bought property in Toronto in 1970’s, you would be loaded but we
were not alive
Younger employees can work for less
Cannot rent a car under 25
Context
Capitalism and industrialization transform family structure as well as social values and
knowledge
More fractured family tiesless economic security with retirement, less social status and
respect=age related inequality more of a dimension within the experience of aging
Age defines many rights and privileges
Voting, driver’s license, car rental, hotel bookings
These are usually inflexibleregardless of ability or knowledge
Referred to as “age grading”—determining access to rights and privileges based solely on age
The runs against merit-based decision making and equality of opportunity approaches
Why aren’t drinking ages or driver’s licenses seen as age discrimination?
Justified as reason limits in the interest of safety and collective good
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Canadian charter guarantees: “the rights and freedoms set out subject only to such
reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and
democratic society” (section 1)
Age grading is also related to dependency and agewhen society believes we can make well-
reasoned life choices
But time and ideas about childhood have dramatically changes
E.g., age of marriage and work; child protection laws
When are you legally accountable for your own actions?
Controversial Omar Khadr case; child solider or war criminal?
But social norms and expectations influence possibilities and experiences in age related ways
E.g., when your age is out of set with expectations
o A young boss
o A young parent
Generational debates and conflicts: Baby Boomers favored over today’s youth?
Youth
Weaker economic opportunities (e.g., 2014 highest employment rate for age 30-24 in
history)
Higher student debt loads
Less likely to vote
Less likely to be identified as a “high need” areas in federal budget
Weaker in numbers
Baby boom
High voting population
More political clout
High numbers
More likely to targeted in budgets for benefits, tax reductions
Less likely to be low income than previous decades
One of the most progressive changes in Canadian inequality is the decline in elderly poverty
rates
Acute problem in the 1970’s and 1980’s especially for women
But for a while, senior poverty rates decline, child poverty rates have not declined at the same
rate
What about the Canadian pension Plan?
People are living longer; needs to cover more people, longer
Seniors now 15% of population; 25% in 2030
But labour force is shrinking
Revenues based on current workers and employees who pay in; surplus will not cover aging
population
Maximum benefit is $12,000. Inadequate for those who must rely solely on it for retirement
income
What is our collective and individual responsibility to plan?
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