The ‘Scandal’ of Women’s Pensions in Britain: How Did It Come About?

Pat Thane

in Britain's Pensions Crisis

Published by British Academy

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780197263853
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734281 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Occasional Papers

The ‘Scandal’ of Women’s Pensions in Britain: How Did It Come About?

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In 2005, just 19 per cent of women pensioners in Britain were entitled to the full basic state pension (itself insufficient to live on without a supplement) compared with 92 per cent of men. The current problems of poverty among older women are not new. The difficulties for women of providing for their old age have been known for more than a century and have never gone away, but they have been evaded by successive governments, not least because they are hard to solve without considerable public expense. The two main ‘pillars’ of the British pension system throughout the past century were state and occupational pensions, both of which have failed most older women. Younger women now spend longer periods in paid work than earlier age cohorts and average female earnings have risen, but a gender gap in work opportunities and pay, and in capacity to save, remains. This chapter discusses the first British pensions, pensions between the wars, William Beveridge's views on women's pensions, and pensions and social change after World War II.

Keywords: Britain; women; pensions; social change; World War II; William Beveridge; old age; poverty; gender gap

Chapter.  5304 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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