Income growth in the United Kingdom during late career and after retirement: growing inequalities after deindustrialisation, educational expansion and development of the knowledge-based economy

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

February 15, 2023


This article shows how late-life incomes from work and pensions evolved in the United Kingdom between 1991 and 2007, the year the Great Recession began. Our main contribution comes from focusing on changes across cohorts in different educational groups while also considering the gender divide. Our statistical analyses based on the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) suggest that deindustrialisation, the expansion of jobs in the knowledge economy and pension reforms affected senior workers’ incomes before and after retirement. Highly qualified senior male workers have profited from increasing income across the cohorts more than any other social group. Such a trend is not observed among highly qualified female workers. Male and female low-qualified senior workers do not show major income loses, but have not benefited to the same extent as highly educated male workers. As a result, pension income inequalities between highly qualified men and the rest have increased. The increasing pensions gap between educational groups can be traced back to the improving situation on the labour market for highly qualified male workers, and to reforms benefiting private pension schemes, where the highly qualified are overrepresented. Thus, the shift in pension provisions towards private pension schemes is clearly disadvantageous for low-qualified male workers and for women of all educational levels, and contributes to the increase of social inequalities.

Published in

Ageing and Society

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 43 , p.393 -420






Open Access

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press



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