The Economist wrote before the 2017 UK general election:

The average incomes of retired households are now higher than those of working ones, once housing costs are accounted for. Small wonder that they want to keep the status quo. [...] elderly folk have also been coddled by the Conservatives—most obviously by the “triple lock” on the state pension, which David Cameron, Mrs May’s predecessor, implemented in 2011. It ensures that pensions rise in line with whichever is highest: inflation, earnings or 2.5%.

The IMF has called it an "unsustainable method of indexation, poorly targeted to those most in need, and not in line with international best practices".

Do any other countries have a "triple lock" system like that?


1 Answer 1


Sort of - the Isle of Man raises its pensions annually as a result of its government's commitment to the same 'triple-lock' principle as the UK, most recently this February.

Many states link their pension rises to some function of average earnings and/or CPI, for example Australia, as described in this HoC briefing paper on the triple lock:

The IFS suggested an alternative system which would ensure that growth in the state pension:

  • did not fall behind earnings (as it would with price indexation);
  • protected pensioners from real cuts to income in periods when real earnings fall (as would occur with straightforward earnings indexation); and
  • did not exceed growth in earnings in the long-term.

That combination of policy objectives could be achieved by linking the state pension to a fixed minimum proportion of average earnings, a system in operation in Australia. The state pension would be uprated with earnings, but with temporary price-indexation when inflation exceeded wage growth. Price indexation would continue once earnings growth again exceeded inflation, but only for as long as the value of the state pension remained above the original fixed minimum proportion of average earnings. Indexation would then revert to earnings.

However, with regard to the exact 'triple-lock' scheme used by the UK, I am unable to find any countries which maintain a similar guarantee. Indeed, a paper published by City, University of London describes the UK scheme as "unique", leading me to believe that indeed no other country operates its pension rises under this principle.

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