Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Are we really supposed to "worry" about the prospect of less discrimination?

Ruth Sunderland on the European ruling banning discrimination by insurance companies on the basis of gender -

"Lord Davies is quite rightly trying to tackle prejudice based on sex. Presumably, the ECJ thinks it is doing the same thing - but it has confused unfair discrimination with the perfectly reasonable act of making well-founded distinctions between groups of people."

I can't help wondering if Ms Sutherland is quite up to speed with the actual definition of the word "prejudice". If judging a person on the basis not of their individual traits but instead of the traits of a "group" they are simplistically assigned to doesn't constitute prejudice, I don't know what does. Are we supposed to regard the greater likelihood of black youths being randomly stopped by the police as "perfectly reasonable" on the grounds that "well-founded distinctions between groups of people" are being made?

"The big worry is that this may only be the start. Lawyers say Europe may turn its sights on other areas such as age, where there is already an EU directive against discriminatory pricing that currently gives an exemption for insurers."

Now, I "worry" about a great many things, but I must say the prospect of further blows against discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender or disability doesn't rank high on my list.


  1. The BBC byline was ridiculous as well: "Women are set to pay higher car insurance premiums and men will get smaller pensions following a European Court of Justice ruling" nothing about the corresponding cheaper car insurance for men and cheaper pensions for women.

    Insurance is about smoothing individual experience over groups. The groups need to be defined in legislation since e.g. a pensions provider that offered terms on a grouped basis would be undercut on male terms by a provider that does not group across gender. They'd therefore be left will all the women and so make a loss.

    This is a good ruling.

  2. One excuse for all the angst seems to be that the insurance companies will use the ruling to make more of a profit. But I have a sneaking suspicion they'd have found a way to do that anyway!