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A Lifetime of Changes: State Pensions and Work Incentives at Older Ages in the UK, 1948-2018

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  • James Banks
  • Carl Emmerson

Abstract

We describe the history of state pension policy in the UK since 1948 and calculate summary measures of the generosity of the system over time and the degree to which the it created implicit taxes on, or subsidies to, work at older ages. The time series of these measures, calculated separately for ’example-type’ individuals of different birth cohorts, education and sexes, are then related to the time-series of employment rates at older ages for the equivalent types of individual. The generosity of the system rose over the period as whole but has fallen in recent years, and in contrast to many countries there were generally never large implicit taxes on work arising from the state pension system. What implicit subsidies there were in the years immediately before the State Pension Age have been gradually eliminated and the system is now broadly neutral with regard to work incentives. Exploiting variation in pension wealth and work incentives across different cohort-education-sex groups, created by the timing and phasing of pension reforms, we show that both pension wealth and the implicit work disincentives in the pension system are correlated with employment outcomes for men, with the expected negative sign.

Suggested Citation

  • James Banks & Carl Emmerson, 2018. "A Lifetime of Changes: State Pensions and Work Incentives at Older Ages in the UK, 1948-2018," NBER Working Papers 25261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25261
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cribb, Jonathan & Emmerson, Carl & Tetlow, Gemma, 2016. "Signals matter? Large retirement responses to limited financial incentives," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 203-212.
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    Cited by:

    1. José Luis Iparraguirre, 2020. "Economics and Ageing," Springer Books, Springer, number 978-3-030-29019-1, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions

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