Pension plans and retirement insecurity

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

December 15, 2018


Why do we observe higher and higher retirement insecurity over the years? This paper argues that an individual’s retirement insecurity hinges on the interplay between her registered pension scheme and the level of market volatility. A pension scheme reflects the extent to which pension investment risk is individualized, providing the seed for retirement insecurity. The fear for retirement was triggered as capital markets became more volatile over the past decade. Market volatility creates an immediate information shortcut for individuals when forming expectations about post-retirement income that will only be realized in the long run. Due to the “available information bias,” citizens have developed overall downward expectations of retirement income under growing market volatility, forming pessimistic perceptions about retirement. This pessimism is more striking among those with a Defined Contribution pension scheme than those with a Defined Benefit plan because of the risk individualization feature. The argument is tested with data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). The findings suggest that individuals’ perceptions of insecurity in post-working life are driven by the type of pension plan in which they are enrolled and the degree of market fluctuation facing them.

Published in

Ageing International

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 43 , p.438 -463






Not held in Hilary Doughty Research Library - bibliographic reference only



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest