Pensioner income


Last updated 8 August 2023 - see all updates

There is a new version of this page. View the latest version.

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:

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

Pensioner families' total gross weekly 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

Download table data for ‘Total income by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Total income by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

4. Data sources


Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics


Department for Work and Pensions

Publication frequency


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

Pensioner Income - Spreadsheet (csv) 270 KB

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