Public Release: 

Risky rainy days who plans for their financial future?

Economic & Social Research Council

Does planning ahead all depend on how much money you have - the rich can afford it and the poor can't? Or is it as much about what your background is and the social and cultural groups that you belong to? Researchers, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, from the Universities of York & Bristol talked to people aged 25-50 who were in one of four different groups:

  • Disabled people

  • Christians and Muslims

  • Gay, lesbian, bisexual people;

  • Black and Asian people

They found that:

  • Disabled people faced risky and uncertain futures. Job security was closely linked to worries about people's present and future health. Some financial products like insurance which might provide some safety net were often not available to Disabled people and the extra cost of being Disabled made it hard to save and plan for the future.

  • Religion - in this case being Christian or Muslim - had some impact on people's attitudes towards money and debt. Christians in our study felt that their faith could provide a 'buffer' against possible risky life events. Muslims said they resisted debt (or paid it off as quickly as possible) in order to save money for their families futures.

  • Gay, lesbian and bisexual people sometimes manoeuvred themselves into jobs where they would feel safer from discrimination and increase their job security. Most said they didn't believe in a 'pink pound' and resisted pressure to over-spend as part of a so-called 'gay lifestyle'.

  • Asian men in the study prioritised work - and working hard - as a way of obtaining some financial security. Black people in the study did not think that being Black had much impact upon their views about planning ahead.

Across all four groups, how much money people had still made a big difference to their ability to plan ahead. However, views and behaviour were also affected by other factors: the way their parents had dealt with risk, the balance between work and other aspects of life they aimed at, and their beliefs about how much help people can expect from the government. For religious groups and ethnic minorities, parental traditions were important. All the religious groups, ethnic minorities and gay people tended not to expect much help from the government if they hit hard times.


David Abbott: 0117 331 0972

Deborah Quilgars: 01904 321480

Peter Taylor-Gooby: 01227 827514

ESRC Press Office:
Kelly Barnett on Tel: 01793 413032, e-mail:
Danielle Moore on Tel: 01793 413312; e-mail:


1. Find out more about this and other related research at an international conference on Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective in London on 17 June at the Royal Society for Engineering. Further details at

2. The research involved focus groups followed by interviews with 80 people in Bristol & Leeds. The research was carried out by Deborah Quilgars & Anwen Jones at the Centre for Housing Policy, University of York and David Abbott at the Norah Fry Research Centre, University of Bristol. The study is part of an ESRC Research Network looking at Risk in Social Contexts (directed by Peter Taylor-Gooby at the University of Kent). See:

3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It provides independent, high quality, relevant research to business, the public sector and voluntary organisations. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2007-2008 is £181 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes. More at

4. ESRC Society Today offers free access to a broad range of social science research and presents it in a way that makes it easy to navigate and saves users valuable time. As well as bringing together all ESRC-funded research and key online resources such as the Social Science Information Gateway and the UK Data Archive, non-ESRC resources are included, for example the Office for National Statistics. The portal provides access to early findings and research summaries, as well as full texts and original datasets through integrated search facilities. More at

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