Debora Price, Professor of Social Gerontology at the University of Manchester, carried out Behind Closed Doors, a first of its kind research project in 2013 that looked at how older couples manage money together. Of the 90 couples interviewed, (there was at least one 65-year-old or older in each couple), the research found about a third of women had experienced long-standing coercive control through money, either by partners dictating how much they can have, what they can spend it on, and if they can access accounts.
“We had been expecting some levels of control,” Professor Price told i. “But we didn’t expect to see quite as much or see it operating quite so harshly.” The research suggested this behaviour wasn’t necessarily exacerbated by older age, “but now it’s completely invisible because nobody really cares about that age group”. For some women, the arrival of pensions were their first means of independent money during their whole adult lives.
Of the project, Professor Price said: “We came away thinking this quite a challenge for feminism.” It generated a shift in thinking about poverty: “If a couple isn’t categorised as poor officially, because there’s too much income coming in, does that mean everyone in the couple is not poor?”