Can the UK welfare state cope with ageing?

  • New analysis and book will explore whether the UK welfare state can cope with an ageing society
  • Chapter authors include Professor Nicholas Barr; Professor Elsa Fornero; Anthony Seldon; Sir Michael Lyons; Professor David Blanchflower; Professor David Bell; Professor Danny Dorling; Phil Hope; George Magnus; Professor Chris Husbands; Lord Richard Best; John Philpott;  Lord David Willetts;  Steve Webb; Gregg McClymont; Nusrat Ghani MP

On 1st July, the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) will publish a new book (Towards a new age: The future of the UK welfare state) which will explore two of the biggest questions of our time:

  • How might population ageing impact on the UK welfare state?
  • What reforms to the welfare state might be necessary to ensure long run sustainability and maximise wellbeing?

The book explores how different aspects of our welfare state will need to reform in order to adapt to ageing. In particular, the book explores:

  • Reforming the pension system
  • The labour market and welfare reform
  • Reforming education
  • Health reform
  • Housing reform

Demographic change is deemed to pose a risk to the welfare state by reducing the number of workers relative to the number of non-workers thereby implying either increased tax burdens on the working population or a reduction in welfare spending per head.

But is such a future inevitable? And what needs to be done to ensure the survival of the welfare state in the context of our ageing population?

ILC-UK has invited a number of experts across different fields to assess the challenges posed by ageing for the UK welfare state as well as the possible solutions.

The book includes ILC-UK’s own analysis of how the UK welfare state ranks in terms of effectiveness when compared to other developed countries.

Authors who have contributed to the book include:

Professor Nicholas Barr; Professor Elsa Fornero; Anthony Seldon; Sir Michael Lyons; Professor Danny Blanchflower; Professor David Bell; Professor Danny Dorling; Phil Hope; George Magnus; Professor Chris Husbands; Lord Richard Best; John Philpott; Ben Franklin; Dr. Cesira Urzi Brancati; Lord David Willetts; Norma Cohen; Steve Webb; Gregg McClymont;  Andy Tarrant; Sally-Marie Bamford; Kieran Brett; Caroline Green; Neal Hudson; Nusrat Ghani MP

The book and new analysis by ILC-UK has been produced with the support of Munich Re.

Book Contents

Foreword, Baroness Sally Greengross

Biographies; Acknowledgements; Introduction

Part 1. Background and context

  • Towards a dystopian future? Population ageing, democracy and the welfare state - Ben Franklin
  • Distinctly average? The UK welfare state in context - Cesira Urzi Brancati

Part 2. How population ageing is challenging the role of the state

  • Can we afford the welfare state? - Nicholas Barr
  • We need a new welfare model for the age of ageing - George Magnus
  • What the welfare state is for - David Willetts
  • Towards economic stagnation? How falling fertility is leading to sterile economies - Norma Cohen

Part 3. Developing coping mechanisms in the face
of population change

Reforming the pension system

  • Economic-financial literacy for sustainable welfare reforms - Elsa Fornero
  • What sorts of pensions and savings delivery models are likely to be viable and fair across generations? - Steve Webb
  • Avoiding lemons: The UK workplace pensions challenge - Gregg McClymont and Andy Tarrant

The labour market and welfare reform

  • The welfare state and the young - David Bell and David Blanchflower
  • Alternative routes to full employment in a flexible labour market: Should welfare reform be tough, progressive, or radical? - John Philpott

Reforming education

  • The individual and the social: making education matter for all of us - Chris Husbands
  • Education in the twenty-first century - Anthony Seldon

Health reform

  • Rethinking health care and taxing assets to fund social care - Phil Hope
  • A tale of two health systems - Sally-Marie Bamford and Kieran Brett

Housing reform

  • How a greater focus on ‘last time buyers’ and meeting the housing needs of older people can help solve the housing crisis - Michael Lyons, Caroline Green and Neal Hudson
  • Housing our ageing population: The role of the state - Richard Best
  • In defence of the welfare state and the role of active housing policy - Danny Dorling

Building a consensus on the way forward

  • Overcoming political short-termism: How can we deliver a new long term social contract in the context of population ageing? - Nusrat Ghani MP
  • Conclusion: Towards some principles for reform - Ben Franklin



Are you looking for a short-term paid role in a think tank over the summer?
The independent think tank the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) is seeking a summer intern to start on Monday 23 July. The intern would work 4 days a week for a period of 4 weeks, with the possibility of extension.

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