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

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  • Alan Walker
  • Liam Foster

Abstract

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
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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.
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