Living on the Age Pension: A Survey Report

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Abstract
This report examines how the social policy of Age Pension provision has affected the life-chances of elderly Australians. Based upon a 1982 social survey of fifty pensioners living in Sydney, the study explores the adequacy of income provision and its implications for the quality of life in retirement, so as to yield an experiential account of life on the pension. Participants were questioned about a range of historical and contemporary influences upon their present living standards, so as to illuminate the central research themes of adequacy and deprivation. The study found that one half of the sample recorded a worse standard of living on the pension. They adjusted to relative poverty with stoicism, and tended to discount any deprivations suffered. This survey indicates that forward financial planning towards retirement is unlikely amongst those of modest socio-economic status. Economic 'self reliance' through past savings or present part-time work cannot be expected, nor does the 'family' provide an income security 'safety net', so the pension must be sufficient rather than supplementary in its amount. The study suggests a range of social policy targets, proposes a common retirement age of 65 years for both sexes, and floats a proposal for a 'survival bonus', so as to reach those pensioners in greatest need.
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Wiles, David
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Publication Year
1987
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Working Paper
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download Reports and Proceedings No 64.pdf 4.44 MB Adobe Portable Document Format
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