Older people with no private income

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Two-fifths of single pensioners – and a fifth of pensioner couples – have no income other than the state retirement pension and state benefits.  These proportions are much grater than those in Great Britain (double the proportion for single pensioners, and more than double for couples).
  • The proportion of workers without a current pension increases as household income decreases (a ‘pension’ here meaning that either they are a member of a pension scheme run by their employer or they have a pension that they arranged for themselves). Three-quarters of those in the poorest fifth not having a current pension.
  • For all ages from 40 to retirement age, around two-fifths of workers do not have a current pension.  Most workers aged 24 or less do not have a pension.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the proportion of pensioners with no income other than the state retirement pension and state benefits, with the data shown separately for single pensioners and pensioner couples.  For comparison purposes, the equivalent data for Great Britain is also shown.

The data source for the first graph is Households Below Average Income, based on the Family Resources Survey (FRS).  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the years 2003/04 to 2005/06 .

The second and third graphs both show the proportion of currently working working-age adults (both employed and self-employed) who do not have a current pension.  In the second graph, the data is shown separately for each household income quintile.  In the third graph, the data is shown separately by age group.

A person is deemed to have a current pension if they answered ‘yes’ to either “are you a member of a pension scheme run by your employer?” or “do you have a pension that you have arranged for yourself?” Note that ‘not having a current pension” is not quite the same as ‘not having a pension’ because some people will have a pension from a previous job.

The data source for the second and third graphs is FRS and the self-employed are included in the statistics.  The data is the average for the latest two years only because the equivalent questions asked prior to 2006/07 were somewhat different.  The household income quintiles are defined in terms of disposable household income after deducting housing costs with all data equivalised (adjusted) to account for differences in household size and composition.  Note that, although the statistics are for Northern Irish households only, the allocations to income quintile are those for the total UK population income distribution.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  The FRS is a well-established annual government survey designed to be representative of the population as a whole and the Northern Ireland sample has been boosted to improve sample sizes.  However, the Northern Irish sample is a recent addition to the survey and is yet to be fully quality assured by the Department of Work and Pensions.