Low income by age group

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Note that (because of small sample sizes) the proportions jump around a bit from year to year and this makes the trends over time somewhat difficult to assess.
  • The proportion of pensioners living in low-income households (using the low-income threshold of the 60% of median income after deducting housing costs) has been falling, from an average of 26% of all pensioners in the years 1996/97 to 1998/99 to an average of 18% in the years 2006/07 to 2008/09.  Pensioners are now much less likely to be living in low-income households than non-pensioners.
  • The proportion of children living in low-income households is also lower than a decade ago (around 36% now compared with 31% then).  Nevertheless, children remain more much likely to live in low-income households than either working-age adults or pensioners.
  • In contrast, the proportion of working-age adults living in low-income households is – at 22% – similar to a decade ago.
  • A third (200,000) of those in low income are children, a quarter (150,000) are working-age adults with dependent children, a further third (200,000) are working-age adults without dependent children and the remainder (100,000) are pensioners.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the risk of a person being in a low-income household, with the data shown separately for children, pensioners and working-age adults.

The second graph shows a breakdown of the people in low-income households according to whether they are children, pensioners, working-age adults with dependent children or working-age adults without dependent children.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years.

The data source for both graphs is Households Below Average Income, based on the Family Resources Survey (FRS).  A child is defined as an individual who is either under 16 or is an unmarried 16- to 18-year-old on a course up to and including A level standard.  Income is disposable household income after deducting housing costs and the low-income threshold is the same as that used elsewhere, namely 60% of British contemporary median household income.  All the data is equivalised (adjusted) to account for differences in household size and composition.  The self-employed are included in the statistics.  Note that in 2007 DWP made some technical changes to how it adjusted household income for household composition (including retrospective changes) and, as a result, the data is slightly different than previously published figures.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  The FRS is a well-established annual government survey, designed to be representative of the population as a whole.

External links