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Dr Debora Price
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Dr. Debora Price, Institute of Gerontology, King's College London

Financing Later Life


As populations age, governments face the challenge of how to finance the welfare of their ageing citizens, particularly in the arenas of financing pensions and social care.   Somehow income and care in later life must be paid for, but who should bear the cost, and how should the money be collected and used?  Should this be a matter for individuals themselves, from their savings and private wealth and income, often making use of the private banking, insurance and investment markets,  or should the government collect taxes and/or national insurance from individuals, and use that revenue to provide services and pensions for individuals?  Either way, individuals pay for the welfare services and pensions, but the balance between these two ways of financing late life can have profound implications for people, since some things, like redistributing from rich to poor, can only be done by governments.

This 'Ageing Bite', draws on research funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) conducted by Dr. Debora Price and Dr. Lynne Livsey at the Institute of Gerontology at King's College London.  They suggest that in the UK, the government is increasingly wedded to the idea of individuals financing later life from their own financial resources, by using the plethora of financial products now available, and that this means that the concepts of financial education and financial capability are occupying key positions in government thinking.  They argue that one consequence of this political and social process is that discussion about whether we should be making more use of government schemes for collecting taxes or insurance, and using these to finance later life, is completely silenced, since we are all so taken up with discussing how best to make the financial markets operate well for individuals.  The bite concludes by suggesting that we need to focus on new forms of inequality that may be emerging in this climate.

Further Reading:

Price, D. & Livsey, L. (June 2013). 'Financing later life: pensions, care, housing equity and the new politics of old age'. In Social Policy Review 25: Analysis and debate in social policy, 2013. Bristol: The Policy Press.

Glaser, K., Price, D., Willis, R., Stuchbury, R. and Nicholls, M. (2009) Life Course Influences and Well-Being in Later Life: A Review.  London: Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

Price, D. (2007) 'Closing the Gender Gap in Retirement Income: What Difference Will Recent UK Pension Reforms Make?' Journal of Social Policy 36(4): 561 -- 583.

Price, D and Ginn, J. (2006) 'The Future of Inequalities in Retirement Income' in C. Phillipson, M. Downs, J. Vincent (eds), The Futures of Old Age, London : Sage.