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UK Pension Reforms: Is Gender Still an Issue?

  • Jay Ginn (a1) and Ken MacIntyre (a2)

The UK Pensions Commission confirmed that women's domestic roles are crucial to their pension disadvantage. As a result, measures enacted in the Pensions Acts of 2007 and 2008 aimed to make state pensions more inclusive for those with periods out of the labour market for family caring, as well as encouraging more saving through private pensions by those with low to moderate earnings. Will these legislative changes, and subsequent reforms and plans, substantially reduce future gender inequality in UK pensions? In this article, we suggest the benefits to women will be patchy and overall less than expected. We first review the interaction of male-oriented pension schemes with the gendered division of caring labour and how this has changed for later cohorts of women. We then analyse, from a gender perspective, the pension reforms and proposals since 2007. Finally, we consider policy alternatives that would give women a better deal in pensions and conclude with an assessment of the mixed effects of pension reforms.

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S. Arber and J. Ginn (1995) ‘Gender differences in informal care’, Health and Social Care in the Community, 3, 1, 1931.

J. Ginn and S. Arber (1993) ‘Pension penalties: the gendered division of occupational welfare’, Work, Employment and Society, 7, 1, 4770.

J. Ginn and S. Arber (1996) ‘Patterns of employment, gender and pensions: the effect of work history on older women's non-state pensions’, Work, Employment and Society, 10, 3, 469–90.

R. Pike (2011) ‘Patterns of pay: results of the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 1997–2010’, Economic and Labour Market Review, 3, 5 March, London: ONS, pp. 1440.

M. Queisser and E. Whitehouse (2006) ‘Comparing the pension promises of 30 OECD countries’, International Social Security Review, 59, 3, 4977.

T. Warren (2003) ‘A privileged pole? Diversity in women's pay, pensions and wealth in Britain’, Gender, Work and Organisation, 10, 5, 605–28.

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Social Policy and Society
  • ISSN: 1474-7464
  • EISSN: 1475-3073
  • URL: /core/journals/social-policy-and-society
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