Pensioner income

Published

1. Main facts and figures

New data for the 3 year period from April 2018 to March 2021 is available if you download the data. The charts, tables and commentary on this page cover the period April from 2008 to March 2020 and do not include the new data.

In the period from April 2017 to March 2020, :

  • The average pensioner family received £556 a week in total income before deductions (‘gross income’)

  • White British pensioner families had the highest average gross income (£566 a week), followed by pensioner families from the Other ethnic group (£543 a week)

  • Asian pensioner families had the lowest average gross income (£391 a week)

  • White British pensioner families were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive income from investments (63%), occupational pensions (62%), and personal pensions (18%) – they were the least likely to receive income from income-related benefits (22%)

  • Asian pensioner families received the lowest income from occupational pensions (29%) and earnings (13%)

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.

Methodology

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.

3. Pensioners' income sources by ethnicity

Percentage of pensioner families receiving different income sources, by ethnicity
Income Benefit Income of which Disability benefits Benefit Income of which Income-related benefits Benefit Income of which State Pension Earnings income Investment income Occupational pension income Other income Personal pension income
% % % % % % % %
All 20 23 97 16 61 60 48 17
Asian 22 37 86 13 35 29 41 6
Black 22 40 93 21 27 44 50 6
Mixed withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
White 20 23 98 16 63 61 48 17
White British 20 22 98 16 63 62 48 18
White Other 20 32 88 19 48 44 47 12
Other withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 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 2017 and March 2020:

  • 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 (17%) and employment earnings (16%)

  • Black pensioner families were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive income-related benefits (40%) and White British pensioner families were the least likely (22%)

  • White British pensioner families were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive income from investments (63%), occupational pensions (62%) and personal pensions (18%)

  • Asian pensioner families were the least likely out of all ethnic groups to receive income from occupational pensions (29%)

  • Black and Asian pensioner families were the least likely to receive income from a personal pension (both 6%), and Black pensioner families were the least likely to receive income from investments (27%)

4. Total income by ethnicity and source of income

Pensioner families' gross weekly income by ethnicity and source of income
Income All Asian Black Mixed Other White White British White Other
£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £
Benefit Income of which Disability benefits 18 18 19 10 12 18 18 16
Benefit Income of which Income-related benefits 22 43 47 45 42 21 20 41
Benefit Income of which State Pension 194 145 150 178 152 197 198 155
Benefit income 242 216 222 238 216 243 244 220
Earnings income 83 76 91 87 103 82 82 107
Gross income 556 391 412 515 543 564 566 481
Investment income 45 22 19 49 77 46 46 35
Occupational pension income 164 69 72 120 132 169 171 101
Other income 4 2 5 2 7 4 4 3
Personal pension income 18 5 4 18 8 19 19 15

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 2017 and March 2020:

  • pensioner families in the UK received £556 a week in total income before deductions

  • out of all ethnic groups, White British pensioner families had the highest total weekly income (£566), followed by pensioner families from the Other ethnic group (£543)

  • Asian pensioner families had the lowest total weekly income (£391)

  • White British pensioner families had the highest weekly income from the State Pension (£198) and Asian pensioner families had the lowest (£145)

  • White British pensioner families had the highest weekly income from occupational pensions (£171) and personal pensions (£19)

  • pensioner families in the Other ethnic group had the highest weekly income from investments (£77)

  • Black pensioner families had the highest weekly income from income-related benefits (£47) and from disability benefits (£19)

5. 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

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 £531 to £556

  • total weekly income went up the most for Mixed ethnicity pensioner families (from £467 to £515), followed by pensioner families from the Other ethnic group (£511 to £543)

  • it also went up for White British pensioner families (from £535 to £566)

  • the total weekly income went down for White Other pensioner families (from £523 to £481), Asian pensioner families (£447 to £391) and for Black pensioner families (£420 to £412)

6. State Pension income by ethnicity over time

Average weekly income from the State Pension by ethnicity over time
3 year period All Asian Black Mixed White White British White Other Other
£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £
2008/09 to 2010/11 169 140 135 138 170 171 157 149
2009/10 to 2011/12 173 137 143 144 174 175 151 152
2010/11 to 2012/13 175 129 138 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 177 177 149 137
2011/12 to 2013/14 177 129 138 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 179 180 149 135
2012/13 to 2014/15 181 133 135 159 183 183 156 139
2013/14 to 2015/16 183 136 141 156 185 186 153 154
2014/15 to 2016/17 187 137 138 153 189 190 151 146
2015/16 to 2017/18 190 136 142 163 192 193 152 146
2016/17 to 2018/19 192 144 145 180 194 195 153 146
2017/18 to 2019/20 194 145 150 178 197 198 155 152

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 £169 to £194 a week

  • State Pension income went up the most for Mixed ethnicity pensioner families (from £138 to £178), followed by White British pensioner families (from £171 to £198 a week)

  • it also went up for Black pensioner families (from £135 to £150), Asian pensioner families (from £140 to £145) and pensioner families from the Other ethnic group (£149 to £152)

  • State Pension income went down for pensioner families from the White Other ethnic group (from £157 to £155)

7. Income from occupational pensions by ethnicity over time

Average weekly income from occupational pensions by ethnicity over time
3 year period All Asian Black Mixed White White British White Other Other
£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £
2008/09 to 2010/11 133 79 74 118 134 135 121 120
2009/10 to 2011/12 139 75 72 154 142 142 126 134
2010/11 to 2012/13 142 81 68 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 144 145 115 140
2011/12 to 2013/14 146 96 70 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 149 150 105 154
2012/13 to 2014/15 151 93 80 152 154 155 108 157
2013/14 to 2015/16 156 84 79 121 160 161 111 144
2014/15 to 2016/17 162 76 71 97 166 167 109 127
2015/16 to 2017/18 161 72 65 85 165 166 102 134
2016/17 to 2018/19 164 71 75 101 168 170 106 114
2017/18 to 2019/20 164 69 72 120 169 171 101 132

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 £133 to £164 a week

  • occupational pension income went up for pensioner families from the White British (from £135 to £171), Other (£120 to £132) and Mixed (£118 to £120) ethnic groups

  • income from occupational pensions went down for pensioner families from the Asian (from £79 to £69), White Other (from £121 to £101) and Black (£74 to £72) ethnic groups

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 by academics and research institutes for social and economic research.

9. 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