So Why Was Women’s Pension Age Lower?


We’ve what I consider a quite extraordinary claim here, that raising women’s pension age to match that of men is discrimination against women. Really, can’t see it myself, equality isn’t discrimination. But that is the claim being made in court. The court says it’s arguable enough that they can continue to argue it to the next stage:

Older women were unfairly discriminated against by a £5 billion Treasury reform that increased the female pension age from 60 to 66, a court was told. Three women who claim that they were not properly informed about the change won the first stage in their legal battle with the government yesterday. The women, who were born between 1950 and 1953, claim the increase in the pension age discriminates against them on the grounds of their age and sex.

Ho hum, apparently the absence of privilege is discrimination now. Especially as women tend to live longer than men and thereby gain their pensions for longer.

However, the little thing that interests is, well, why were pensions ages different in the first place? Female lifespans have been longer ever since we started to have that state pension back in 1909. In fact, we’re pretty sure they always have been longer. If a woman survived childbirth (a serious killer of fertile women) then she was likely to live longer than the men around her.

So, why lower pensions ages for women? My assumption – and please do correct if this is wrong – is that in Britain men have tended to marry women a few years younger than themselves. 3 to 5 years is about the historical average. Thus, when pensions were instituted, have different pension ages so that the average couple would retire roughly together.

Anyone’s got any better explanations please do let us know. Might even be something in the historical Hansard to explain it.