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Means Testing Retirement Benefits: fostering equity or discouraging savings?


  • Dr Justin van de Ven


  • Dr Martin Weale



Means testing plays an important role in the UK state pension system. We use a dynamic programming model to consider the long-term behavioural effects of a recent policy reform that reduced the marginal tax rates on private income of means tested retirement benefits from 100% to 40%. Our analysis suggests that the policy reform will encourage the poorest third of all households (based on wealth at age 65) to both save more and delay retirement, and have the opposite effects on richer households. In aggregate, the off-setting behavioural responses that we identify imply an overall delay in the timing of retirement, a fall in average savings, and a small effect on the government budget. We find that, on balance, the policy reform provides a reasonable compromise between the distortions associated with high marginal tax rates, and the costs implied by universal benefits provision.

Suggested Citation

  • Dr Justin van de Ven & Dr Martin Weale, 2006. "Means Testing Retirement Benefits: fostering equity or discouraging savings?," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 283, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:nsr:niesrd:1389

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