Debates over intergenerational pension fairness should be treated with scepticism as they often over-simplify complex issues, according to ex-shadow pensions minister Gregg McClymont.
At a Trades Union Congress panel debate this week, the Aberdeen Standard Investments retirement head argued that focusing on pensions inequality between the generations missed several key factors.
Inequality within generations can be more important in determining life outcomes than inequality between generations, he argued, while political motivation to fight intergenerational battles is often lacking.
The role of life expectancy in defining an individual’s life chances could be missed by focusing on inequality between the generations, he added.
McClymont said: “We have to be careful and not lose the broader context when we talk about inequality. In global terms, Britain is facing challenges other nations have and it is interesting to look at other nations that cope better. For instance, the Nordic countries are in a good position and have tied the eligibility of the state pension to life expectancy. So these countries have a more generous state pension compared to Britain.
“But it is more of a challenge to raise the state pension age for everyone in Britain compared to Sweden, which has less income inequality.”