M-RCBG Senior Fellow-Led Study Group: Camilla Cavendish

"When I'm 64...will you pay my bills?": The Ageing of America and the West, the implications for the next generation, and how to fix the growing gap between rich and poor

April 24, 4:00-5:30pm  M-RCBG Conference Room (Belfer 503)

Overview: For much of recent history, the world has worried about overpopulation. But falling birth rates mean that some European countries will soon start shrinking. And because people are living longer, the US and many other countries will soon have far more old people to support.

There is growing concern that this will put impossible pressure on Social Security, Medicare and other programmes - and that younger generations will have to pay more in tax to support them. 

There is also evidence of a widening divergence in life expectancy, in most OECD countries, between certain groups of rich and poor. Even as the educated and highly skilled find themselves energetic and employable into their 70s, living longer and longer lives, a less advantaged group is crippled by chronic diseases which can emerge in their 50s.

This study group will examine these trends, and debate possible policy responses. Should we encourage older people to work longer, to boost their incomes in retirement and relieve the pressure on the younger generation? If so, what kinds of schemes might achieve this? 

We will also be asking, what is fair? Is it right to ask everyone to work longer, when the life expectancy of some groups is not keeping pace? What can we do to tackle chronic disease and health inequalities? How 
might we construct a system which would be fairer to everyone: the young, millennials and babyboomers? 

Pre-reading is not required, but is available by emailing camilla_cavendish@hks.harvard.edu

Camilla Cavendish.jpgCamilla Cavendish is an award-winning journalist and commentator who sits as an independent peer, Baroness Cavendish of Little Venice, in the UK House of Lords. She was a senior advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron, as Head of the Policy Unit in Number Ten Downing Street. She received her MA from Oxford University in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and her MPA from the Kennedy School, where she was a Kennedy Memorial Trust Scholar. She has expertise on a wide-range of policy issues, including healthcare. She was the author of the Cavendish Review, An Independent Review into Healthcare Assistants and Support Workers in the NHS and social care settings, commissioned by the UK Government in 2013. She has been a Non-Executive Director of the Care Quality Commission, the UK’s hospital and care home regulator. She is best known as the author of the UK government’s “sugar tax” on sugary drinks, announced in 2016 to counter obesity, and for her work on child protection. As Assistant Editor and OpEd columnist for The Times newspaper, her campaign to expose miscarriages of justice in family courts convinced the Brown government to legislate, to open those courts to the media. She is the recipient of the Paul Foot/Private Eye award for investigative journalism; Campaigning Journalist of the Year and Wincott Senior Financial Journalist.  She is published regularly in The Sunday Times and The Financial Times, appears regularly on BBC and ITV television, and has presented programmes for BBC Radio 4 on topics including the age divide and air pollution. She is chair of Frontline, a pioneering non-profit which recruits and trains high performing graduates to be social workers. She started her career at McKinsey & Co and went on to be CEO of a public-private joint venture which regenerated London’s south bank area. As a Senior Fellow, her research is entitled: The coming demographic challenge, the emergence of the “Super Old”, and the need for new conceptual frameworks. Her faculty sponsor is Jeff Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy. Email: camilla_cavendish@hks.harvard.edu