IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Caught between virtue and ideological necessity. A century of pension policies in the UK


  • Alan Walker
  • Liam Foster


This article describes the introduction and subsequent development of old age pensions in the UK. In accounting for nearly a century of pensions history it eschews the idea of linear progression and, instead, charts the interrelated histories that constitute the complex picture of retirement income. These include public pension provision, starting in 1908, the extension of social insurance in the late 1940s and the reform of pensions from a neo-liberal perspective in the 1980s. It also charts the emergence of occupational pension schemes and their impact on social stratification in old age. The article emphasises that, despite changes in pension provision over this long period and the transformation in work force composition and family structure, many of the same issues that concerned policy makers and campaigners in this field a 100 years ago are still present today. Examples include the questions of how to encourage and reward thrift, maintain financial viability and eradicate poverty. The article includes some speculation about the future direction of pensions policy in the UK and, finally, places this country in a European pensions policy context.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Walker & Liam Foster, 2006. "Caught between virtue and ideological necessity. A century of pension policies in the UK," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(3), pages 427-448.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:18:y:2006:i:3:p:427-448
    DOI: 10.1080/09538250600797990

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Phil Agulnik & Julian Le Grand, 1998. "Tax Relief and Partnership Pensions (A version of this paper has now been published in the journal Fiscal Studies, vol.19 No.4 ,1998)," CASE Papers case05, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    2. David Simpson, 2003. "How To Clear Up The Pensions Mess," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(3), pages 11-15, September.
    3. Palmer, Edward, 2000. "The Swedish pension reform model : framework and issues," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 23086, The World Bank.
    4. Sergio Cesaratto, 2006. "Transition to fully funded pension schemes: a non-orthodox criticism," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(1), pages 33-48, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:18:y:2006:i:3:p:427-448. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.