Ethnicity and occupational pension membership in the UK

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Social Policy & Administration


Athina Vlachantoni, Zhixin Feng, Maria Evandrou and Jane Falkingham

Publication date


Reflecting a relatively low-value Basic State Pension, occupational
pensions have historically been a key aspect of pension protection
within Britain. Existing research shows that minority ethnic groups are
less likely to benefit from such pensions and are more likely to face
poverty in later life, as a result of the interaction of their labour
market participation and pension membership patterns. However, the lack
of adequate data on ethnic minorities has so far prevented the direct
comparison of different ethnic groups, as well as their comparison to
the White British group. Using data from the UK Household Longitudinal
Study, this article explores patterns of employment and the odds ratios
of membership in an employer's pension scheme among working-age
individuals from minority ethnic groups and the White British
population, taking into account factors not used by previous research,
such as one's migration history and sector of employment
(public/private). The analysis provides new empirical evidence
confirming that ethnicity remains a strong determinant of one's pension
protection prospects through being in paid work, being an employee and
working for an employer who offers a pension scheme. However, once an
individual is working for an employer offering a pension scheme, the
effect of ethnicity on that person's odds of being a member of that
scheme reduces, except among Pakistani and Bangladeshi individuals for
whom the differentials remain. The article also provides evidence on the
pension protection of Polish individuals, a relatively ‘new’ minority
group in the UK.

Volume and page numbers

49, 801-823





Pensions, Labour Market, Poverty and Ethnic Groups


Open Access article; Referenced by: Understanding Society (2018) ‘Written evidence from Understanding Society the UK Household Longitudinal Study (WSN0051) [Work and Pensions Select Committee. Welfare safety net inquiry]’. London: Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Work and Pensions Select Committee.