Life expectancy gap hits pension plans

A report published this week has highlighted a widening gap in life expectancy between the rich and poor and is expected to lead to fuel political opposition to increasing the state pension age.

The report published by Club Vita has drawn attention to a ‘healthy wealthy’ who are benefiting more from improvements in healthcare due to increased life expectancy than the ‘unhealthy poor’.

Official forecasts have been based on life expectancy increasing at the same rate for rich and poor alike, whilst the report shows that longevity is increasing much faster for those with higher incomes and those who live in certain parts of the country.

For example, the report contrasts the outcomes for a man of 67 retiring in 2008-10 in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea with a man of the same age living in Carrickfergus Northern Ireland.  The Kensington and Chelsea pensioner can expect to draw his pension for 22.4 years before dying whereas his Carrickfergus counterpart will only be able to do so for 15 years.  This makes the state pension about 50% more valuable to the richer pensioner than the poorer and raises questions about the benefits of future taxpayer funded pensions being tilted towards the wealthy.

The data analysed included 1.5 million pensioners in all income groups.  As well as looking pensioner data by postcode Club Vita examined other date such as club card records to form a collate a picture of seven different groups with the ‘healthy wealthy’ group at the top of the tier and the ‘unhealthy poor’ at the lower end.

The report also showed that a poor man born in 1982 will collect a pension for 25.4% of his adult life whereas a rich man born and retiring in the same years will receive it for 36.2% of his adult life.

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