Your Money and Your Life: From Welfare State to Personal Finance


The central theme for this module is the shift in responsibility and risk from the state to the individual in relation to financial security. Whereas in the 1940s and 1950s, the welfare state aimed to provide social security from cradle to grave, the 1980s and 1990s have seen a growing emphasis on individuals to provide for their own financial needs through occupational pensions, home ownership and personal savings. This shift from the state to individual responsibility and risk is particularly problematic at a time of growing economic uncertainty, wealth inequality and demographic change.

The module will consider the role of other actors here, such as the financial services sector, employers and the third sector in relation to financial security. A particular focus will be placed on issues around class, gender and ethnicity in relation to the topics covered. Some international comparisons of systems (i.e. US, Europe) which would help to place the changes in the UK into wider context.

This module will cover a range of topics, such as: saving for retirement - the balance between state and private pensions; home-ownership and the housing market; social insurance versus private insurance; credit and debt; making ends meet; within-household distribution of income and wealth; money over the life course; the generational contract; saving; paying for long-term care; financial capability; financial inclusion; inheritance; wealth inequality; taxation; using up assets; the relationship between money and happiness; asset-based welfare.

As well as taking a critical, academic approach to these issues, students will also be introduced to a range of issues which may increase their own personal financial capability (eg in discussing issues around student debt, home ownership and pensions). We have good links with Student Funding Office in the University and with Birmingham City Council's Financial Inclusion team. We would hope to draw on these in the delivery of the module, eg in highlighting materials aimed to help students manage money and in arranging off-site visits, eg to a Citizens Advice Bureau, Housing Associations and so on.   


  • 3,000 word essay : Coursework (50%)
  • 3 hour exam (50%)