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Title: Informal carers' attitudes to pensions and retirement savings
Author: Hutchinson, Sarah J.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Concerns about population ageing have been central to reforms of pensions policy and social care policy in the UK over recent decades. However, policy responses to these social problems are in tension, as individuals have been expected to take greater responsibility for both pension saving and provision of care, even when care involves a reduction in earnings and savings. While the pension system protects carers’ state pensions, little attention has been paid to their non-state pensions. This thesis therefore explores the attitudes and beliefs carers hold regarding pensions, and the effect of caring on pensions planning, particularly planning a non-state pension. It focuses on the assumptions made about agency and decision-making contained within social policy. Semi-structured interviews were held with those aged 35-64 who were providing 20 hours of care or more a week in the Thames Valley and Greater London. Almost all of the carers reported disruption to their private pension savings as their employment was impacted by caring. Few felt able to make a choice regarding either caring or employment. Caring also affected the importance many attached to saving, although there was no uniform effect on decision-making. Some carers became more reflexive, attempting to take more control in response to the uncertainty in their lives; others felt powerless due to this uncertainty and limited financial resources. The study provided support for the theory of an ethic of care, which suggests individuals make decisions based on relationships rather than calculations of expected outcomes. The findings challenge the assumptions made in pensions policy. Carers were classed in four categories of approach to pensions savings: reflexive planners, non-reflexive planners, reflexive non-planners and non-reflexive non-planners. A range of financial and social resources corresponding to Bourdieu’s habitus and economic and cultural capital was required for carers to act as reflexive planners.
Supervisor: Kemp, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Demography and population ageing ; Families,children and childcare ; Welfare state reform and change ; pensions ; decision-making ; carers ; care ; social security ; retirement ; social care