Can the UK afford to pay for pensions?: 50 expert economists give their view

Document type
Kingman, David
Intergenerational Foundation
Date of publication
1 March 2013
Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Social welfare
Material type

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The Intergenerational Foundation has conducted a survey involving 50 of the UK’s leading thinkers on economics to gauge whether they think the UK will be able to maintain the current status quo when it comes to paying off its pension liabilities in the future. Everyone who agreed to participate in the survey was asked to come up with answers to the following pair of questions about Britain’s pension liabilities: 

  1. According to the ONS, Britain currently has £1.2 trillion worth of public sector pension liabilities, three-quarters of which are unfunded. What do you think is the likelihood that these will all be paid in full?
  2. In Britain the state pension  currently paid regardless of other income and assets. However, in some other countries (including Australia) it is means tested. Do you think means testing of the state pension is likely to be introduced 2040? 

The 50 economic experts provided telling evidence of the challenges which younger Britons will face over the coming years.. 36 (75%)of the respondents said they thought that the UK’s public sector pension liabilities would not be paid in full. Almost half (46%) of the respondents said that they thought the basic state pension would have become means tested by 2040.