Demographic doom at the ballot box

An ageing population will vote for higher public spending on pensions

In an important new report* published today by the Institute of Economic Affairs, economist and actuary Professor Philip Booth** shows how older people are having progressively more influence over the political process – at the expense of the diminishing proportion of young people in the electorate.

This trend is set to continue very sharply. The research suggests that the average age of voters will rise from 46 to 53 over the next 30 years. More alarmingly, after allowing for the increased tendency of older people to vote, the average age of active voters will rise to 58. Within just 20 years, 50% of active voters will be over age 55.

This is alarming because other research in this field has shown that for every year by which the average age of voters increases, government spending on pensions increases by 0.5% of GDP. This projected increase in the average age of voters in the UK could therefore translate into an increase in pension spending of £45.5bn per annum.

Indeed, the IEA research calculates that the ageing electorate will have very str