Legislative changes in the 1980s and 1990s have meant that non-state pensions are becoming increasingly important in pension provision in Britain. The introduction of Approved Personal Pension Plans (APPS) as a legal second-tier pension option has
meant that potential pension alternatives have increased and now consist of SERPS, occupational pension schemes and APPS. These alternatives are not, however, similarly beneficial. Occupational pensions are usually by far the better option. It is precisely because women have been disadvantaged in occupational pensions in the past that so many older women live in poverty today. Using secondary analysis of the General Household Survey for 1988-90 the research shows that women of employable age are less likely to have occupational pensions or
personal pension plans than men and this is largely because of the impact of childcare responsibilities on their labour market positions. However, the generally disadvantaged position of women in the labour market means even women without caring responsibilities are disadvantaged in pension welfare. In addition the research demonstrates that differences among women in relation to labour market variables as well as ethnicity, marital status and child dependency status means that women cannot be treated as an homogeneously disadvantaged group, and consequently some women are more disadvantaged than others in their pension provision. Interviews with 45 women aged 40-59 reveal that, for the women interviewed, although most women wanted an independent pension income, many could not afford,
or were ineligible for, their desired schemes. The research also shows that married women cannot, even if they wanted to, rely on husbands for financial welfare in pensionable years as a polarisation of couples between those where both have a
pension and where neither has a pension means that women are less likely to have a pension if their husband does not have a non-state pension. The research concludes that women's poverty in older age will increase, as concentration on non-state pension provision means that women will be increasingly disadvantaged.