Minimum Age Cutoffs and the Fair Allocation of Benefits

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Sturm College of Law


Age, COVID, Government benefits, Discrimination


The COVID-19 pandemic brought debates over the use of age in scarce resource allocation to the fore once again. Initially, particularly in developed countries, debates surrounded the use of older age as an exclusion or lower-priority criterion for receipt of scarce medical interventions such as ICU beds and ventilator therapy. Many advocacy groups for older adults argued that age should not be used as a criterion for access to such interventions.[1] In developed countries and in particular the United States, they were largely successful, at least with respect to formal policy, ensuring that resource allocation policies excluded or minimized the role of age-based prioritization that might work to the disadvantage of older adults. Some of these groups argued that the use of age would constitute “unlawful age discrimination."

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User is responsible for all copyright compliance. This article was originally published as Govind Persad, Minimum Age Cutoffs and the Fair Allocation of Benefits, Harv. Hum. Rts. J., (Nov. 18, 2022).