Theme: Public Policy | Content Type: Journal article

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Unlocking the Pensions Debate: The Origins and Future of the ‘Triple Lock’

Jonathan Portes


Andre Taissin

| 1 min read

The ‘triple lock’ mechanism governing the uprating of state pensions is often framed as a transfer from workers to mostly well-off pensioners, driven by the latter's outsize political influence. Others note that pensioner poverty remains widespread and that the UK state pension remains relatively low compared to other advanced economies. Both perspectives—but especially the first—often omit the historical context and, particularly, the post-1979 steady fall in the value of the state pension as a proportion of earnings and the resulting increasing dependence on means-tested benefits. The key insight of the Turner report was that failure to reverse this trend would further erode any incentive to save for lower- and middle-income earners. Reforms that solely focus on the short-term impacts on current pensioners, rich and poor, risk long-term damage.

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    Jonathan Portes

    Jonathan Portes is Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Department of Political Economy, King's College London.

    Articles by Jonathan Portes
Volume 94, Issue 4

Latest Journal Issue

Volume 94, Issue 4

Includes a collection on Scottish Politics After Sturgeon, edited by Ben Jackson and Anna Killick. This features articles such as 'Independence is not Going Away: The Importance of Education and Birth Cohorts' by Lindsay Paterson; 'Diary of an SNP First Minister: A Chronopolitics of Proximity and Priorities' by Hannah Graham; and 'Politics, the Constitution and the Independence Movement in Scotland since Devolution' by Malcolm Petrie. There are a wide range of other articles including 'Unlocking the Pensions Debate: The Origins and Future of the ‘Triple Lock’ by Jonathan Portes and 'The Politics of England: National Identities and Political Englishness' by John Denham and Lawrence Mckay. Finally, there is a selection of book reviews such as Branko Milanovic's review of Equality: The History of an Elusive Idea by Darrin M. McMahon, and Alexandre Leskanich's review of Cannibal Capitalism by Nancy Fraser.

Find out more about the latest issue of the journal