Returns on private sector pensions have been in the doldrums for a long time, and with interest rates (on which annuity rates depend) firmly stuck at historically low levels, an increasing number of people are unable to rely on their pension savings to secure their post-retirement lifestyle.
However, for property owners, continuing increases in house prices over time, plus low mortgage rates, have meant that many have steadily built up equity in their homes. Indeed, a substantial majority of homeowners now have more wealth tied up in property than they do in their pensions.
According to insurer Aviva, half of all people in the UK over 45 see their home as being a source of income in retirement, with an average expectation that downsizing will release £57,000 of capital.
Aviva also revealed that more than a million people over the age of 65 are still working and that two thirds of retirees who have insufficient savings to fund their retirement lifestyle only realised that after they retired.
Among the 'millennials', nearly half of graduates believe that their degree has not furthered their career and 37 per cent regret having studied at university because of the debt burden that has resulted. Aviva also reported that the 18-34 age group has an average monthly disposable income of £156, so one potential spoke in the wheel of a strategy to use the equity built up in property to finance retirement is the difficulty young people face in saving enough money to finance a house purchase.
The ramifications of the changes in the economy over the last two decades in particular have been considerable. As the findings above show, there are substantial generational differences which have significant social impact and which pose formidable problems for families as a whole.