Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe

Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe

Matt Barnes, Christopher Heady, Sue Middleton, Jane Millar, Fotis Papadopoulos, Graham Room and Panos Tsakloglou

There are estimated to be almost 60 million people living in poverty throughout the European Union. This bleak statistic underlines the value of this important book which explores the nature and extent of poverty and social exclusion in six European countries, namely: Austria, Germany, Greece, Norway, Portugal and the UK. The book focuses on four ‘life course’ groups who might be considered particularly at risk: young adults, lone parents, the sick and disabled, and the retired.

Chapter 6: Transition into Retirement

Sue Middleton

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


Sue Middleton The current and projected cost of retirement to public expenditure budgets is causing concern in all the countries in this study, provoking fundamental reviews of the extent and nature of provision. The increased cost to national exchequers of retirement is the result of a so-called ‘demographic time bomb’ in Western Europe caused by: 1. 2. 3. increased life expectancy; the prospective growth in the population of retired people because of increased birth rates in the post-war years; and the subsequent decline in birth rates leading to a reduction in the size of the working population available to fund pension and other provision for retired people (see Chapter 3). To this list should be added the increasing desire of people to work for shorter periods of time and the encouragement, or at least permissiveness, by governments in the 1980s and early 1990s of early retirement as a solution to problems of unemployment. In this chapter characteristics of the ‘retired‘ population in the study countries are described followed by a comparison of policy responses designed to meet the needs of elderly people in each country. The extent and causes of poverty among the retired are examined and, finally, the appropriateness of policy responses to the ‘greying’ of the European population. The ‘retired’ population in this analysis, for all countries except Norway, includes adults over the age of 45 years who described themselves as retired, and people who did not claim to be retired but who were over the state retirement...

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