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Never had it so good? Boom time for older people

Angus Hanton (Intergenerational Foundation, London, UK)
Liz Emerson (Intergenerational Foundation, London, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




Increasing longevity, while welcome, has far-reaching implications for the social contract between generations. These include eye-watering costs for health and social care, intense pressure on the old-age dependency ratio, changing power relations in politics and voting, and increasing pressure on in-work families. In a period of austerity, policy makers have chosen to protect older generations’ benefits and paid for this by slashing benefits for the young, in spite of growing evidence that wealth distribution has changed with older generations becoming wealthier than once thought. The paper concludes that age alone can no longer be used as a proxy for need. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


This discussion paper uses original quantitative research and analysis undertaken by the Intergenerational Foundation (IF) ( which includes Freedom of Information requests to government departments. It brings together the think tank's research into demographics, ageing, policy, government debt and liabilities, benefit reform and spending patters in order to investigate the changing distribution of wealth across the generations.


It is clear that with changing distributions of wealth that age alone can no longer be used as a proxy for need. While older generations are becoming wealthier younger generations are becoming increasingly burdened by debt, with poorer prospects and being asked to maintain the current status quo.


The paper contains original research conducted by the IF ( into spending patterns across the generations and annual public sector pensions.



Hanton, A. and Emerson, L. (2015), "Never had it so good? Boom time for older people", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 18-21.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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