Centre for Death & Society

What are we saving for?

A study of attitudes towards finances post-retirement


Principal Investiagtor: Kate Woodthorpe

Research Team: Hannah Rumble, Caron Staley

Funder: SunLife Direct

Amount: £50,000

Duration: February 2013 - September 2013


Project Rationale and Aims

The UK population is ageing, social care costs post-retirement are a mounting concern, pension deficits are increasing and individuals’ savings are being squeezed. One decade into the twenty-first century and the financial consequences of human longevity and the impact of the ongoing recession are beginning to bite. Within this, individuals’ attitudes and expectations about their expenditure post-retirement, including meeting anticipated and projected costs as well as unexpected expenses, is a key political and social issue.

Building on previous research into funeral poverty funded by SunLife Direct (SLD), this project will examine older people’s attitudes and expectations regarding the practice and use of savings. In particular, we will look at why individuals save, how decisions are made about savings and attitudes towards inheritance/debt.  In this context, we will then examine funeral costs and how these will be met in order to evaluate how people rate the importance of funeral costs as a predicable expense.


The research will seek to address the following questions:

  1. What to individuals save for, and why, in their post-retirement years?
  2. How do individuals reach decisions about managing their finances, specifically in relation to saving s and selecting financial products
  3. How do individuals regard their savings/financial arrangements in relation to meeting everyday, unexpected and planned expenditures?
  4. How are attitudes towards saving shaped and influenced by expectations regarding financial independence, inheritance and debt?
  5. To what extent are funeral costs considered an expenditure post-retirement?

We will achieve this through:

  1. A review of existing scholarly literature on savings and retirement, financial literacy, debt and inheritance, and funeral costs.
  2. Semi-structured interviews with 25 individuals aged 65+
  3. Semi-structured interviews with 5-10 key stakeholders

Project Outputs and Impacts

Intended outputs of the research are:

  • Project report and executive summary for funders
  • Production of potential case study material
  • One academic peer-reviewed article
  • Research dissemination event for stakeholders and academics
  • One substantial research bid that develops/extends the themes for the research, ideally related to University Knowledge Transfer objectives
  • Attendance at 3 academic conferences to disseminate research findings

Find out more about this project

Name: Mrs Caron Staley
Title: Institute Manager
Department: Dept of Computer Science
Location: Virgil Building 3.28
E-mail: cs317@bath.ac.uk
Phone: work+44 (0) 1225 386275