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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

Professor Debbie Price speaks on state pension age, work, retirement, and the outlook for younger people.

13 November 2018

October saw a historic week in the United Kingdom, with, for the first time in history, men and women reaching state pension age at the same time – at age 65. But as many commentators have pointed out this week, equality of outcomes between men and women remains a long way off.

A recent report from Prospect showed that women in retirement have incomes 40% lower than men’s.   To reflect on these issues, Professor Debora Price appeared on BBC Radio 5-Live, where she spoke about state pension age, work, retirement, and the outlook for younger people.  Equalisation of state pension ages has had a very difficult path.  Communication with the public was poor, and the rises have been made more rapid with successive governments, leaving many women little time to plan for these very substantial changes.  And while the state pension age for both sexes is 65 today, it will reach 66 by October 2020, and rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028, with the possibility of a further rise to 68 between 2037 and 2039.  Even though there has been more publicity about this, it is likely to still come as a shock to many people over the next two years that they will not be able to get their state pension on their 65thbirthday. 

The issue of inequalities in the pensions that men and women accumulate is one that is now stark, since women no longer have the perceived advantage of an earlier entitlement. Debora has been researching the gender gap in pensions for many years.  In an article in Ageing & Society, she showed that most of the UK population relies on the state pension to keep them out of poverty, and while this was true for men and women, it was much more important for women.  Most recently, as part of the WHERL project the research team modelled the impact of gendered life course differences and the gender pay gap on pension accumulation for men and women. 

Three briefing notes are available from the Pensions Policy Institute:

The longer report from the project is also available from the PPI:

Debbie said, “We have seen rapid rises in women’s state pension ages, and from now, further rises for both men and women.  We now need to focus our research and policy efforts towards understanding and reducing inequalities in mid- and later life.  This means thinking in much more fundamental ways about what good work is and how to provide it, reducing inequalities in pay and strengthening wages for those on low pay, supporting occupational health throughout the life course, and supporting peoples skills and training throughout their lives. But for a society in which people can enjoy their later years as best can be, we also need fundamentally to support state pensions, and to strengthen benefits for those who provide care and for whom physical and mental health problems mean that paid work is not feasible.”  

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