Unemployment and abnormally high levels of inflation are continuing to eat away at the spending power of older generations. Job losses have hit women particularly hard compared to a year ago, partly as a result of the public sector cutbacks.
The Saga Quarterly Report, combining quantitative economic data with qualitative well-being measures, showed a continuous corrosion in quality of life throughout 2011, with older people becoming steadily less happy and less financially secure throughout the year. But there are some tentative signs of stability or possibly even some ‘green shoots’ of recovery this quarter.
It seems that older people may be adopting a ‘grin and bear it’ attitude in the face of financial hardship, which is indicated by an improvement in Saga's 'Happiness Index' component of the Quality of Life during the latest quarter. Rather than moaning and complaining, older people try to make the best of their situation and find ways of adjusting.
Dr Ros Altmann, Director General, Saga said: “We are still a long way from reporting a “positive” Quality of Life for the over 50s in the UK. Although there seems to have been a minor improvement over the last quarter only it’s too early to say whether this marks the start of a new trend towards lasting quality of life improvement.
“Our Quarterly Report Series serves as a reminder to policy makers that older generations should feature more prominently on the Government’s agenda. With an ageing population, these important age groups should not be overlooked.” Unemployment and income pressures for this significant sector of the population are in danger of undermining economic welfare for society as a whole.
The Bank of England should also take the impact of inflation more seriously, as Saga’s surveys clearly show the damage caused to economic activity by rising prices. During 2011, rising living costs was consistently the biggest concern of the over 50s – and remains so for our first Quarterly Report of 2012 – and this has caused older generations to cut their spending significantly.
The only positive element, however, is that they are still managing to help out their children and grandchildren, who are also struggling.
Key Findings from the Saga Quarterly Report, Q1 2012
· 32% of people feel their Quality of Life is worse than this time a year ago
· Concerns over living costs remain the number one worry in life, particularly for those in their 50s with over 60% of people aged 50-54 citing living costs as a greater concern than this time last year.
· 45% of over 50s are cutting back on their non essential spending
· Despite their own financial difficulties, a third (33%) of over 50s are still financially helping their children and grandchildren
Notes to Editors:
*The Saga Quarterly Report
The Saga Quarterly Report is the first research series which combines hard economic data from official sources (such as Office for National Statistics and Family Expenditure Survey) with survey evidence from Saga’s own exclusive nationwide Populus Survey of more than 11,642 over 50s.on well-being. This echoes the Government's initiative to measure national well-being. The Report Series is undertaken by respected independent economists at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and is updated every three months.
In identifying some of the key drivers that impact the daily lives of this age group and by tracking the quality of their lives, Saga hopes the Quarterly Report and its Quality of Life and Price Indices will improve the understanding of the lives of the over 50s, challenge the way society perceives age and ensure that the concerns and interests of the over 50s are on the agendas of politicians, decision-makers and the media.
Each report includes The Saga Quality of Life Index which combines measures of happiness, standards of living and health and has been modelled by Cebr from Saga Populus Survey data to form an Index which can be tracked over time.
The Saga Quality of Life Index is comprised of three equally weighted sub-indices:
1. The Standard of Living Index – which is based on answers to the survey question: “Over the past year, how has your standard of living changed?”
2. The Happiness Index - which is based on answers to the survey question: “All things considered, since last year would you say you are much more/more/about as/less/ much less happy?”
3. The Health Index - which is based on answers to the survey question: “Compared to this time last year, how is your health?”
The Report also includes the Saga Price Indices, which are bespoke measures of price inflation for the over 50s, showing how inflation is affecting the cohorts age 50-64, 65-74 and the over 75. These indices have been compiled for Saga by the Cebr, using statistical data from the Family Expenditure Survey to re-weight the official basket of the consumer prices index to represent the spending patterns of each age group.