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African Conceptions of Age-Based Moral Standing: Anchoring Values to Regional Realities
Abstract: Is age discrimination ethically objectionable? One puzzle is that we sometimes assume that the target of both age discrimination and ageism must be older people, yet in poorer nations, older people are generally shown more respect. This article explores the ethical question. It looks first at ethical arguments favoring age discrimination toward younger people in low-income, less industrialized countries of the global South, using sub-Saharan Africa as an illustration. It contrasts these with arguments favoring age discrimination toward older people in high-income, more industrialized countries of the global North, particularly the United States and United Kingdom. Finally, it considers what role, if any, differences in life expectancy, infant and child mortality, and prospects for healthy lives should play in the moral embrace of a particular view by a community. It argues that there can be reasons to favor different types of discrimination in different parts of the world.