30 October 2012
The members of Britain’s baby boomer generation who are just starting to enter retirement have been called “the richest generation in history”. Yet, to a large extent, the British welfare state still treats age as a proxy for need, transferring large amounts of public money to all pensioners in the form of universal benefits, regardless of how wealthy they are.
In order to help further the debate surrounding how Britain’s welfare state should be reformed as the population ages, IF undertook this study to discover how many members of the older generation live in households that have assets of more than £1 million, using data from the 2008/10 Household Wealth and Assets Survey.
The author estimates that in 2011, there were approximately 1.9 million over-60s living in households with asset wealth greater than £1 million, 1 million of whom were over-65 (above state pension age for both males and females). This finding should lead to increased debate about how the British welfare state treats pensioners who have large reserves of private asset wealth, and whether benefits should the distributed according to need rather than age.