The social, cultural and economic influences on retirement saving for young adults in the UK

Ellie Suh, Hayley James

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


How young adults in the UK save for their retirement has become more complex due to recent changes to the pension policy, which necessitate greater and continuous private saving (through workplace pension schemes and other savings vehicles). As the importance of active saving during working life grows, it becomes essential to understand young adults’ retirement saving behaviour. In this chapter, we focus on the younger half of the working age population in the UK (adults aged up to 50, hereafter young adults) to fully capture the experiences of becoming an adult in the first part of t working life and how this shapes financial behaviours, acknowledging that patterns of ageing vary across different groups (Baars et al., 2013; Mortimer & Moen, 2016). Our work suggests that young British adults’ approach to retirement saving is not simply a function of income (or the lack of it), or present bias/myopia, but instead concerns how social and economic circumstances coalesce. By combining the findings from two studies on the young adults’ retirement saving, using quantitative and qualitative data, we provide a nuanced picture of how young adults’ social, cultural and economic factors inform retirement saving. Drawing on a social ageing perspective, meaning the ways in which individuals perceive their life-course progression, we demonstrate that young people’s retirement saving is contingent on feeling financially resilient and established in their adult lives, guided by economic, social and cultural norms. We argue that this social ageing perspective is essential to understanding retirement saving activity amongst young adults, and highlight theoretical, methodological and policy implications.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Youth Employment Insecurity and Pension Adequacy
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781802208580
ISBN (Print)9781802208573
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2023

Publication series

NameGlobalization and Welfare Series


  • pension saving
  • The UK
  • young adults
  • social ageing


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