DP254 | Intergenerational Transfers and Public Expenditure on the Elderly in Modern Britain

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Recent research in the United States and New Zealand has suggested that over the last two decades the age profile of well-being has shifted against children and in favor of the elderly population. This shift has occurred because welfare systems have become increasingly generous towards older people and increasingly restrictive towards families with dependent children. This paper considers whether similar trends can be identified for Britain. We examine measures of the age profile of poverty and of changes in the incomes of older people, but find they produce ambiguous results which do not address directly the issue of the intergenerational impact of the British welfare state. Direct measures of government expenditure on cash benefits to the retired population and on health and personal social service expenditure by age-group show that the British welfare system has been neutral between age-groups in recent years.