Senior Discounts Promote Age Discrimination

Discussion
Aug 04, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson


William Ecenbarger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, says seniors need to take a stand against age discrimination and one of the best ways they can do that is by working to get rid of senior discounts.


Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, Mr. Ecenbarger argues senior discounts, while created with the best of intentions are based on false assumptions.


“The practice is acceptable because of the widespread belief that ‘elderly’ and ‘needy’ are synonymous. Perhaps that once was true, but today elderly Americans as a group have a lower poverty rate than the rest of the population. To be sure, there is economic diversity within the elderly, and many older Americans are impoverished. But most of us aren’t.”


The solution, writes Mr. Ecenbarger is to offer discounts solely based on need and no other criteria.


“It no longer makes sense to treat the elderly as a single group whose economic needs deserve priority over those of others. Senior citizen discounts only enhance the myth that older people can’t take care of themselves and need special treatment; and they threaten the creation of a new myth, that the elderly are self-seeking ingrates who are taking for themselves at the expense of children and other age groups. Senior citizen discounts are the essence of the very thing older Americans are fighting against – discrimination by age.”


Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to William Ecenbarger’s views on senior discounts and the call for need-based programs?


We were struck with a couple of thoughts while reading William Ecenbarger’s commentary in the Christian Science Monitor.



  1. The age requirement for what constitutes a senior citizen is getting younger. AARP membership, for example, is open to anyone 50 years of age and up.

  2. Senior citizens are making up an increasingly large portion of the population.

  3. Americans are living longer. By the end of this century, many believe the average lifespan in the country will be 100-years of age.
    George Anderson – Moderator

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