Towards a new political economy of pensions? The implications for women

From Critical Social Policy

Over recent years there has been concern about the future sustainability of UK pensions mainly linked with the increase in life expectancy of the general population. The government and pensions industry face the difficult challenge of satisfying two potentially contrasting demands: to ensure that government pension spending remains stable and also respond to the needs of the poorest pensioners, many of whom are women. This study looks at the changing nature of women’s pension provision and highlights that many female pensioners are currently without access to significant pension entitlements in their own right. The fact that women are more likely to undertake caring responsibilities, work on a part-time basis, receive lower levels of pay and are more likely to have interrupted work histories often results in them receiving a smaller pension in retirement. This study considers proposals to address the gender inequality.

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Abstract

This article employs a political economy approach to assess the changing nature of women’s pension provision. Initially it provides an overview of the current context showing that many female pensioners are without access to significant pension entitlements in their own right. Then it examines the history of women’s pensions over the last 30 years with reference to both state and private forms of provision. It considers the pension strategies of Thatcher and New Labour governments and their impact on women’s pension situation. This includes an evaluation of recent New Labour proposals, such as Personal Accounts, a raise in the basic State Pension age and reintroduction of the link to earnings. Finally, the paper concludes that these proposals do not represent the emergence of a new political economy of pensions which better reflects the needs of female pensioners rather they are a response to the challenges of an ageing population.

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Article information:
Liam Foster (2010). Towards a new political economy of pensions? The implications for women Critical Social Policy, 30 (1), 27-47 : 10.1177/0261018309350807

     
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