Discussion paper

DP16 Ageing and the Economy: Historical Issues

The paper summarizes what is currently known about the history of old age in Britain in relation to the economy, in particular to labour supply; and the areas in which this history could most usefully be developed in order to contribute to current and future policy discussions. It describes the aging of the British population over this century, the reasons and major effects: the aging of the workforce, increasing numbers over retirement age, especially since the nineteen fifties, changing patterns of demand for housing, education, health, social security and other social services and likely future changes in view of the historically detectable changes in experiences and expectations between generations. It cautions however that not all over retirement age should be regarded as dependents; their contribution to the economy in terms of part-time work and unpaid services, often within the family, should be assessed; nor when dependent are their social and economic costs necessarily born by the state, but to a considerable extent by family and friends.


Thane, P (1984), ‘DP16 Ageing and the Economy: Historical Issues‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp16