Mea culpa: how the PP neglected age

Increasingly I’m having to accept that in the Paula Principle book I left out a major angle, namely the way the PP operates over the full adult life, and not merely at work. I’m now working on a book on how to model the life course as a whole, and so have become sensitised to the way in which inequalities at work affect the (increasingly long) periods people have after they finish paid work. But I should certainly have paid it more attention when thinking then about the PP.

The most recent prompt came from a piece by the FT journalist Claer Barrett. Her always interesting contributions to the weekend FT Money run under the title ‘Serious Money’, but let me hasten to say that they are not only or even primarily for investors with serious amounts of moolah . This weekend’s piece was about the proposed changes to student loans. Claer quotes Ben Waltmann’s @IFS analysis to show that the proposals will not lower earners hardest, since the repayment time is now to be extended to 40 years (and since lower earners are less likely to be able to pay off the loan early they will go on paying interest for longer). They also mean that women will pay more (£6600) and men less (£5500) than under the current system, partly because they are lower earners but also because they are much more likely to spend time out of work.

Kudos to the IFS for once again conducting analysis which shows long-term effects. It’s another salutary reminder of the the cumulative effective of the under-recognition of women’s competences. The pandemic may be upturning our ideas of conventional working time patterns, but the dominant model for career progression remains the full-time and continuous – and the effects of this will be with us for many years to come.

As a footnote, whilst we’re on issues of age and inequality: I’m a supporter of the Social Guarantee, which makes the case for universal access to life’s essential services. A recent blogpost from them features Jill Wales on digital access for older people:

more than two million older adults had never used the internet and consequently had fewer opportunities to shop, access services, find information and maintain their social relationships. Many more had some online experience but lacked the essential digital skills to communicate and collaborate online, needing help to connect a device to a Wifi network.”

Loans for university students attract a lot of coverage: the government’s decade-long slashing of funds for FE colleges who help older learners gain IT skills gets almost none….

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