As a growing part of the population, older people are increasingly important to the UK economy. It has been estimated, for example, that people over the age of 65 spend more than £100 billion per year, which accounts for around 15 per cent of all household expenditure. At the same time, older people are experiencing more pressures on their often limited financial resources (such as the need to pay for care and the rising cost of living) which can reduce their quality of life. It is crucially important, therefore, that policy-makers and practitioners have a good understanding of the different aspects of well-being among older people, in order to inform the design of policies and services that affect their lives.
This research generated new knowledge to improve our understanding of these issues, by examining the types of savings and assets that older people have; their patterns of spending and borrowing; their access and use of financial services such as bank accounts and insurance; and the relationship between financial well-being and quality of life.
To do this, we drew upon data from a number of large-scale national and international surveys that have collected information about various aspects of financial well-being, wealth and quality of life, using cutting-edge statistical techniques to analyse the data. This allowed us to develop typologies of older people; to describe the characteristics of these different groups; and to explain the differences between them. We also looked at trends in financial well-being and wealth over time and compared the views and experiences of older people in the UK with those in other countries. We complemented the survey data with analysis of in-depth interviews that have previously been carried out with older people in the UK. The value of analysing these interviews is that we were able to explore older people's circumstances, views and experiences in greater depth.
The research was carried out by PFRC in partnership with the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK), an influential think-tank that specialises in longevity and demographic change. The results of the research have been published and made widely available. One of our key objectives was to bring the research findings to the attention of a wide range of audiences, including academics, government policy-makers, charities that focus on older people and ageing, organisations that deliver services to older people such as Age UK and the general public. By generating new knowledge and understanding about the financial dimensions of well-being in older age, the research has influenced and informed policies and practices that affect the everyday lives of older people.