Forty per cent of middle-aged and elderly people suffer age discrimination when they look for jobs, a survey has found. The Hong Kong Council of Social Service said private firms should be given tax incentives to take on older workers. It said the number of unemployed people over 40 had tripled from 25,900 in 1996 to 89,400 last year. The survey, conducted by the council in March and June, found 39.6 per cent of 412 respondents believed they had been turned down for jobs because of their age, while 26.8 per cent said their wages had been cut because of their age. Almost 20 per cent claimed they were sacked for being too old. The survey found that those over 40 and with only primary education suffered more age discrimination than those with higher qualifications. Professor Fung Ho-lap, a council adviser from Chinese University, said the SAR should learn from other countries and introduce tax incentives to encourage the private sector to employ older people. 'This has been a very popular policy in Western countries, including United States and France, over the past 15 years,' he said. The council also urged the Government to legislate against age discrimination, educate employers on the issue, formulate an employment policy for the group and revise retraining programmes.