The Gender Gap in Pensions: How Policies Continue to Fail Women

by Jay Ginn and Liam Foster

10 Aug 2023
Journal of the British Academy
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Abstract: A large gender gap in UK pensions has been persistent, yet generally ignored by governments. The neoliberal preference since 1980 to reduce state spending on welfare has limited the redistributive potential of state pensions, to the detriment of the low paid and those whose lifecourse is characterised by discontinuous and part-time employment, mainly women. Claims of intergenerational conflict have repeatedly hit headlines over the last 50 years, providing an excuse for cutting state pensions, most recently suspending the Triple Lock. This article examines the gap between older women’s and men’s personal income, distinguishing state and private pensions and assessing change over time. It is concluded that suitably generous state pensions can reduce the gender gap, while an emphasis on expanding private pensions exacerbates it.

Keywords: gender pensions gap; lifecourse; employment; state pensions; private pensions; parental roles

Article posted to the Journal of the British Academy, volume 11, supplementary issue 2 (Narratives of Old Age and Gender: Multi-disciplinary Perspectives)

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