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

James Banks, Carl Emmerson

NBER Working Paper No. 25261
Issued in November 2018
NBER Program(s):Economics of Aging

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25261

Forthcoming: A Lifetime of Changes: State Pensions and Work Incentives at Older Ages in the UK, 1948–2018, James Banks and Carl Emmerson. in Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: Reforms and Retirement Incentives, Börsch-Supan and Coile. 2020

 
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