Pensioner income

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in this data, a ‘pensioner family’ is either a single pensioner or a couple (married or living together) that includes at least one pensioner
  • between April 2016 and March 2019, the average pensioner family received £548 a week in total income before deductions (‘gross income’)
  • White British pensioner families had the highest average gross income (£556 a week), followed by Mixed ethnicity pensioner families (£553 a week)
  • Asian pensioner families had the lowest average gross income (£401 a week)
  • White British pensioner families were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive income from investments, occupational pensions and personal pensions, and the least likely to receive income from income-related benefits
  • Asian pensioner families received the lowest income from occupational pensions
Things you need to know

Because the data varies from year to year, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) takes 3 years’ worth of data and works out the average for that period. It works out a new 3-year average every year.

Differences between ethnic groups have not been tested for statistical significance, but we only comment on findings where differences are reasonably reliable.

The data has not been recalculated to take into account any differences in household size and composition (known as ‘equivalisation’). For this reason, you can’t compare the data with figures that have been equivalised.

The Family Resources Survey has been shown to under-report the number of people receiving benefits compared with DWP’s administrative records. For this reason, the percentage of people receiving benefits shown here is likely to be slightly lower than the real percentage.

The survey only covers private households. People living in communal accommodation (such as care homes) or with no fixed address are not included in these results.

The ethnicity assigned to the pensioner family is the head of the family’s ethnicity (usually the person with the highest income). In this data, ‘Mixed ethnicity pensioner families’ are those where the head of the family has Mixed ethnicity, not families whose members are from different ethnic groups.

The figures in the download file before the period April 2016 to March 2019 may not match figures published by DWP. Figures for the Other and Mixed ethnic groups for the period April 2016 to March 2019 are not directly comparable with figures published by DWP.

Looking at the income by ethnicity over time sections, all of the income figures in this release have been uprated to 2018/19 prices.

What the data measures

The data measures how much gross income pensioner families in the UK receive, and the sources of that income. Gross income is the amount of income from all sources before taxes and other deductions.

The data does not include income from other people in the household (such as adult children), except for benefit income of dependent children.

Income-related benefits include:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Council Tax Reduction
The ethnic categories used in this data

Data is only shown for aggregated groups rather than specific groups. This is because of the small number of people surveyed in some ethnic groups.

Data on White pensioner families is split into 2 groups:

  • White British
  • White Other

2. Pensioners' income sources by ethnicity

Percentage of pensioner families receiving different income sources, by ethnicity
Income All Asian Black Mixed White British White other Other
% % % % % % %
Benefits (including State Pension) 100 100 99 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 100 99 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
State Pension 97 86 94 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 98 88 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Income-related benefits 24 35 42 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 23 31 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Disability benefits 20 20 20 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 20 20 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Occupational pension 60 30 41 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 62 42 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Personal pension 18 8 8 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 18 13 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Investments 61 34 26 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 63 49 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Earnings 16 17 23 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 16 20 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other 47 41 49 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 48 45 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable

Download table data for ‘Pensioners' income sources by ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Pensioners' income sources by ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Pensioner income Pensioners' income sources by ethnicity Summary

The data shows that, on average between April 2016 and March 2019:

  • 97% of all pensioner families received income from the State Pension
  • other common sources of income were investments (61% of all pensioner families) and occupational pensions (60%)
  • the least common sources of income were disability benefits (20%), personal pensions (18%) and employment earnings (16%)
  • Black pensioner families were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive income-related benefits (42%), and White British pensioner families were the least likely (23%)
  • White British pensioner families were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to get income from investments (63%), occupational pensions (62%) and personal pensions (18%)
  • Asian pensioner families were the least likely out of all ethnic groups to get income from occupational pensions (30%)
  • Black and Asian pensioner families were the least likely to get income from a personal pension (8%), and Black pensioner families were the least likely to get income from investments (26%)

3. Total income by ethnicity and source of income

Pensioner families' gross weekly income by ethnicity and source of income
Income All Asian Black Mixed White British White other Other
£ £ £ £ £ £ £
Gross Income 548 401 425 553 556 487 520
Benefit Income 235 207 213 234 237 215 226
Benefit Income of which State Pension 189 141 142 177 192 151 144
Benefit Income of which Income-related benefits 22 38 49 43 20 38 45
Benefit Income of which Disability benefits 18 17 15 9 18 17 24
Occupational pension 161 69 73 99 167 104 112
Personal pension 20 9 4 19 21 18 7
Investments 42 24 16 49 43 31 52
Earnings 86 88 113 148 84 114 117
Other 4 3 6 5 4 4 5

Download table data for ‘Total income by ethnicity and source of income’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Total income by ethnicity and source of income’ (CSV)

Summary of Pensioner income Total income by ethnicity and source of income Summary

The data shows that, on average between April 2016 and March 2019:

  • pensioner families in the UK received £548 a week in total income before deductions
  • out of all ethnic groups, White British pensioner families had the highest total weekly income (£556), followed by Mixed ethnicity pensioner families (£553)
  • Asian pensioner families had the lowest total weekly income (£401)
  • White British pensioner families had the highest weekly income from the State Pension (£192), and Asian pensioner families had the lowest (£141)
  • White British pensioner families had the highest weekly income from occupational pensions (£167) and personal pensions (£21)
  • pensioner families in the Other ethnic group had the highest weekly income from investments (£52) and disability benefits (£24)
  • Black pensioner families had the highest weekly income from income-related benefits (£49)

4. Total income by ethnicity over time

Pensioner families' total gross weekly income, by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2008/09 to 2010/11 2009/10 to 2011/12 2010/11 to 2012/13 2011/12 to 2013/14 2012/13 to 2014/15 2013/14 to 2015/16 2014/15 to 2016/17 2015/16 to 2017/18 2016/17 to 2018/19
£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £
All 522 528 523 522 531 538 546 546 548
Asian 439 455 458 476 446 420 417 397 401
Black 412 413 386 378 391 393 397 380 425
Mixed 459 530 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 466 505 521 497 553
White British 526 532 527 525 536 544 553 554 556
White other 514 520 500 490 486 489 498 490 487
Other 502 508 560 567 643 596 635 584 520

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

Summary of Pensioner income Total income by ethnicity over time Summary

The data shows that, on average:

  • the total gross weekly income for pensioner families went up from £522 to £548 over the period studied
  • the total weekly income for Mixed ethnicity pensioner families had the largest monetary increase (from £459 to £553), followed by White British pensioner families (from £526 to £556)
  • increases in weekly income were also seen for pensioner families in the Other ethnic group (from £502 to £520) and Black ethnic group (from £412 to £425)
  • the total weekly income went down for White Other pensioner families (from £514 to £487) and Asian pensioner families (from £439 to £401)

5. State Pension income by ethnicity over time

Average weekly income from the State Pension by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2008/09 to 2010/11 2009/10 to 2011/12 2010/11 to 2012/13 2011/12 to 2013/14 2012/13 to 2014/15 2013/14 to 2015/16 2014/15 to 2016/17 2015/16 to 2017/18 2016/17 to 2018/19
£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £
All 166 170 172 174 178 180 184 186 189
Asian 138 135 127 127 130 134 135 134 141
Black 132 141 136 135 133 138 135 139 142
Mixed 136 142 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 156 154 150 160 177
White British 168 172 174 177 180 183 187 190 192
White other 154 148 147 147 153 150 149 149 151
Other 147 149 135 133 137 152 143 144 144

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

Summary of Pensioner income State Pension income by ethnicity over time Summary

The data shows that, on average:

  • State Pension income went up from £166 to £189 a week in the period studied
  • State Pension income increased the most for Mixed ethnicity pensioner families (from £136 to £177), followed by White British pensioner families (from £168 to £192 a week)
  • increases were also seen for Black pensioner families (from £132 to £142) and Asian pensioner families (from £138 to £141)
  • State Pension income went down for pensioner families from the White Other ethnic group (from £154 to £151) and the Other ethnic group (from £147 to £144)

6. Income from occupational pensions by ethnicity over time

Average weekly income from occupational pensions by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2008/09 to 2010/11 2009/10 to 2011/12 2010/11 to 2012/13 2011/12 to 2013/14 2012/13 to 2014/15 2013/14 to 2015/16 2014/15 to 2016/17 2015/16 to 2017/18 2016/17 to 2018/19
£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £
All 130 137 140 144 149 154 159 158 161
Asian 78 74 80 95 91 83 75 71 69
Black 72 71 66 69 78 78 70 64 73
Mixed 116 151 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 149 119 95 83 99
White British 132 140 143 147 152 158 164 163 167
White other 119 124 113 103 106 109 107 100 104
Other 118 131 138 151 154 141 125 131 112

Download table data for ‘Income from occupational pensions by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Income from occupational pensions by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Pensioner income Income from occupational pensions by ethnicity over time Summary

The data shows that, on average:

  • occupational pension income for pensioner families went up from £130 to £161 a week in the period studied
  • occupational pension income went up for White British pensioner families (from £132 to £167) and for Black pensioner families (from £72 to £73)
  • income from occupational pensions went down for Asian pensioner families (from £78 to £69) and White Other pensioner families (from £119 to £104)
  • it also went down for Mixed ethnicity pensioner families (from £116 to £99) and pensioner families in the Other ethnic group (from £118 to £112)

7. Methodology

The Family Resources Survey (FRS) collects information on the income and circumstances of people living in private households in the UK.

The survey is carried out in respondents’ homes with an interviewer.

Almost 60,000 households took part in the survey in the 3 years from April 2016 to March 2019.

Survey responses only reflect a sample of the total population, so they are weighted on the basis of local population totals by age and sex to give estimates for the entire UK population. Read more about how weighting is used to make survey data more representative of the whole population.

Further information on the methodology for the Pensioners’ Incomes series can be found here (PDF opens in a new window or tab)

Rounding

Percentages are given to the nearest whole number, and income is rounded to the nearest pound. This means some figures may not add up.

Related publications

Households Below Average Income

Family Resources Survey

Quality and methodology information

8. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Work and Pensions

Publication frequency

Yearly

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 extensively by academics and research institutes for social and economic research.

9. Download the data

Pensioner Income - Spreadsheet (csv) 220 KB

This file contains data for the period 2008/09 to 2018/19. 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