Pension Scheme Membership Highest Among Employees in their 40s and 50s

The latest Pension Trends update from the Office for National Statistics shows that men and women in their 40s and 50s are most likely to be members of their employer’s pension scheme.

In the 50 to 54 age group, 65 per cent of male employees and 62 per cent of female employees were members in 2010.

Regardless of sex, employees at the beginning and end of their working lives were least likely to be members: around one-tenth of employees aged 16 to 21 and under one-fifth of those aged 65 and over belonged to their employer’s pension scheme.

Membership of employer-sponsored pension schemes is closely related to income. Employees with high earnings are more likely to be a member of a pension scheme than those lower down on the wages ladder.   

In 2010, only 16 per cent of male and 27 per cent of female full-time employees earning less than £300 per week belonged to a pension scheme. This compared with 75 per cent of men and 83 per cent of women earning £600 per week or more.

The Pensions Trends update also shows a widening gap in occupational pension scheme membership between employees in the private and public sectors.

In 1997, 52 per cent of male employees and 37 per cent of female employees belonged to a pension scheme in the private sector.  By 2010, this had fallen to 39 per cent of male employees and 28 per cent of female employees.

But amongst employees in the public sector, the picture is very different. From 1997 to 2010, the proportion of male employees in the public sector belonging to a pension scheme remained unchanged at 87 per cent, while for women, it went up from 75 to 82 per cent.

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