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Welfare Reform on the Web (July 2011): Social security - overseas

Helping the poorest help themselves? Encouraging employment past 65 in England and the USA

D. Lain

Journal of Social Policy, vol.40, 2011, p.493-512

In the context of population ageing and low retirement incomes, the UK government has increasingly sought to encourage people to work longer. However, loss of access to means-tested benefits may act as a disincentive for poorer people to continue in employment, and managers have typically restricted opportunities to work beyond 65. In the US, on the other hand, benefits are meagre and hard to access, but age discrimination legislation protects individuals from forced retirement. The consequent much higher levels of employment among over-65s in the USA suggests that following US-style policies of restricting access to benefits and outlawing age discrimination in the workplace would increase employment among this age group in the UK, although probably not to US levels. More fundamentally, increased employment among the poorest over-65s in the UK would not compensate for loss of benefits.

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