Summary: The ONS released a report this week that showed how pensioners' net income has changed over the past ten years, and it is largely good news for the retired, with a 27% increase in their mean real net income. However, large inequalities still exist, with the gap between the top and bottom quintiles widening.
What does the chart show? The chart shows two aspects of average weekly net income for pensioner couples, in 2010/11 prices, over two three year periods (1998-01 in red, and 2008-11 in blue). On the left of the dotted line, it shows the mean income for all pensioner couples. On the right of the dotted line, it shows the median net income for each quintile divided by income (the pensioner population has been divided into five groups depending on their income, and the figure given is the median income for that group).
Why is the chart interesting? The mean annual income for pensioner couples has risen over the past ten years from around £25,000 to almost £32,000 in real terms, and this represents a significant increase in living standards for pensioners. However, the mean average obscures some of the inequalities that exist, with a median income in the bottom quintile of just £221 per week between two people. The gap between the top and bottom quintiles is also widening, from £481 per week in 1998-01 to £594 per week in 2008-11.