Active membership of defined contribution pension schemes has outstripped membership of defined benefit schemes for the first time, the National Association of Pension Funds annual survey has found.
Publishing results of its 40th annual survey workplace pension schemes, the NAPF highlighted some of the major changes that had taken place over the last four decades.
For example, the basic state pension in 1975 was £13.30 and is now £113.10. Male life expectancy at age 65 was 13.3 years and is now 22.0 years, while for females, life expectancy at 65 has risen from 17.6 years to 24.5 years.
One of the more obvious trends had been the shift from DB to DC schemes, the NAPF said.
'The decline of defined benefit has been well documented as schemes have gradually closed to new members and new contributions from existing members. This year's survey shows that trend continuing with 39% of DB schemes fully closed compared to 34% last year,' said Graham Vidler, director of external affairs at the NAPF.
'That said, DB schemes are still very much the dominant investment force in UK workplace pensions, with our survey showing on average £2.3bn of assets in private sector DB pensions schemes and £0.25bn in DC pension schemes in 2014.'
The survey found that 50% of DB schemes remain open to future accrual, but only 8% of private sector DB schemes are open to new members compared to 12% in 2013.
The average pension paid to a DB scheme member was £8,071, up slightly from the £8,010 paid out last year.
Average contributions continued to slow, hitting 11.7%, down from 12.5% last year. This consisted of 7.6% in employer contribution and 4.1% from employees.
Commenting on wider changes, Vidler said: 'In 40 years - less than a working lifetime - we've seen massive changes in the pension landscape. Two-tiers station pensions have been introduced, radically reformed and then abolished. Contracting out was in - and now is out. Scheme memberships was compulsory, the voluntary and now automatic. Stakeholder pensions and annuities both became a significant part of mass market retirement provides and both are now in decline.'
He added that the good news was that participation in workplace pension was up and repeated the NAPF's call for the establishment of an independent retirement savings commission to ensure future pensions policy was subject to impartial scrutiny.