Last updated 8 August 2023 - see all updates
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1. Main facts and figures
In the three year period to March 2021:
the average pensioner family received £566 a week in total income before deductions (‘gross income’)
pensioner families from the ‘other’ ethnic group had the highest average gross income (£649 a week)
Asian pensioner families had the lowest average gross income (£415 a week)
white British pensioner families were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive income from investments (64%), occupational pensions (64%), and personal pensions (18%) – they were the least likely to receive income from income-related benefits (21%)
black pensioner families were most likely to receive income from income related benefits (40%)
between April 2008 and March 2021, total weekly income went up the most for pensioner families from the ‘other’ ethnic group (from £513 to £649)
Total weekly income decreased for Asian pensioner families (from £448 to £415), mostly because of a decrease in investment income (from £39 to £16)
State Pension income went up the most for pensioner families from mixed ethnic groups (from £139 to £181)
2. Things you need to know
What the data measures
The data measures how much income pensioner families in the UK receive from all sources before taxes and other deductions, by ethnicity.
A ‘pensioner family’ is either a single pensioner or a couple (married or living together) that includes at least one pensioner.
The data does not include income from other people in the household (such as adult children), except for benefit income of dependent children.
The data only covers private households.
Percentages are given to the nearest whole number, and income is rounded to the nearest pound. This means some figures may not add up.
Not included in the data
The data does not include people living in communal accommodation (such as care homes) or with no fixed address.
The ethnic groups used in the data
The data uses the ethnic group categories from the 2011 Census.
Data is aggregated for each of the Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups, which means estimates are shown for these groups as a whole. Data is shown separately for White British and all other White people (‘White Other’ ethnic group).
Some households contain people from different ethnic backgrounds. The ethnicity assigned to the household is that of the head of the household (usually the person with the highest income). The data does not account for people of different ethnic backgrounds who live in the same household.
Read the detailed methodology document for the data on this page.
The data is a time series of 3-year averages, the latest of which is from April 2017 to March 2020. This is to make sure there are enough pensioner families to be able to make reliable generalisations. You can read more about combining multiple years of data and some of the issues involved.
Confidence intervals have not been worked out, so comparisons between ethnic groups may not be reliable.
Household income has not been adjusted (or ‘equivalised’) to take into account the number of people who live there.
The Family Resources Survey has been shown to under-report the number of people receiving benefits compared with the Department for Work and Pensions’ administrative records. For this reason, the percentage of people receiving benefits shown here is likely to be slightly lower than the real percentage.
The figures on this page are based on survey data. Find out more about:
interpreting survey data, including how reliability is affected by the number of people surveyed
how weighting is used to make survey data more representative of the whole group being studied
In the data file
See Download the data for figures before the period April 2017 to March 2020. Estimates by
type of income.
3. Total income by ethnicity over time
|3 year period||All||Asian||Black||Mixed||White||White British||White Other||Other|
|2008/09 to 2010/11||531||447||420||467||534||535||523||511|
|2009/10 to 2011/12||538||463||420||539||541||541||529||517|
|2010/11 to 2012/13||532||466||393||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||536||536||508||570|
|2011/12 to 2013/14||531||484||385||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||534||535||499||577|
|2012/13 to 2014/15||540||453||398||474||544||545||494||654|
|2013/14 to 2015/16||547||427||400||513||552||554||498||607|
|2014/15 to 2016/17||556||425||404||530||561||563||507||646|
|2015/16 to 2017/18||556||404||387||506||562||564||499||595|
|2016/17 to 2018/19||558||408||433||563||564||566||496||529|
|2017/18 to 2019/20||556||391||412||515||564||566||481||543|
|2018/19 to 2020/21||566||415||505||507||572||572||558||649|
4. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Department for Work and Pensions
Purpose of data source
The Pensioners’ incomes series is based on data from the Family Resources Survey (FRS). The main purpose of the FRS is to give the Department for Work and Pensions data to develop, monitor and evaluate social welfare policy.
The survey is also used by other government departments, including for tax and benefit policy modelling by HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs. The FRS is also used by academics and research institutes for social and economic research.
5. Download the data
This file contains data for the period 2008/09 to 2020/21. This is the data used in the charts, tables and commentary shown on this page. The file contains: Measure, Time, Time_type, Ethnicity, Ethnicity_type, Measure_type, Value, Value_type, Note