Keating, Matthew

Matthew Keating
Start date:
October 2017
Research Topic:
Poverty, social security policy and intergenerational fairness in the UK
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Rod Hick and Dr Marco Pomati
Supervising school:
School of Social Sciences,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship
External Sponsor:
Office for National Statistics

The post-war welfare state was founded upon the notion of protection from ‘cradle to grave’. This conception of the welfare state implies the existence of a social contract between generations.

Pensions, for instance, are to be funded by the taxes of the working-age population, who, in turn, expect similar provisions when they reach retirement.

Recently, however, debates surrounding the concept of ‘intergenerational fairness’ have gained prominence in cross-party political discourse. The large ‘baby-boomer’ generation began retiring in 2011, raising questions about the sustainability of current state pension provision, in particular the ‘triple lock’.

In an era of austerity, older people have largely been protected from cuts to social security. This has fuelled debates about whether policies to reduce the fiscal deficit taken by the Coalition government favour older people, at the expense of younger people.

The most recent debates on intergenerational fairness centre on what can be described as a bilateral ‘conflict’ between two generations: typically, baby-boomers versus millennials, with some going as far to suggest a ‘political generational war’ is unfolding.

Whilst such debates are certainly of great interest, little has been mentioned about how recent tax and transfer policy has affected anti-poverty outcomes between generational cohorts.

Against this background, my research will explore changes in poverty and deprivation within and between generations in the UK over time. This will largely involve detailed secondary data analysis of the Households Below Average Income surveys. Furthermore, my intentions are to analyse anti-poverty effects of social security by using microsimulation to estimate hypothetical policy change.