Ethnic elders and pension protection in the United Kingdom

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Ageing and Society


Athina Vlachantoni, Zhixin Feng, Maria Evandrou and Jane Falkingham

Publication date


Pension receipt in later life is determined by the way in which individuals' pension contributions and circumstances over the lifecourse interact with eligibility rules. Within the British context, such pensions relate to sources such as the State Pension, an occupational or private pension, and Pension Credit. Existing research shows that membership of certain ethnic groups is associated with a lower likelihood of receiving occupational or private pensions. Data from Understanding Society allows us to build on existing evidence by examining the factors associated with the receipt of three different kinds of pension income – State, occupational/private and Pension Credit – among older men and women from separate Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups. The results show that belonging to certain BME groups reduces one's chances of receiving the State Pension or an occupational/private pension, but increases the chance of receiving Pension Credit. The gender-specific analysis shows that these results hold true for many BME groups of men, whereas among women, only Pakistani women are less likely than White British women to receive an occupational/private pension. Such findings provide up-to-date empirical evidence that ethnic inequalities in pension protection are still evident and contribute to the increasingly important debate in the United Kingdom and elsewhere regarding migrants' social security and welfare over the lifecourse and in later life.

Volume and page numbers

37, 1025-1049





Older People, Pensions, Poverty, Welfare Benefits, Ethnic Groups and Life Course Analysis


Open Access article; Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.