One of our most distinguished economists, Sir Alan Peacock is also a nonagenarian. As an academic and former civil servant he is well placed to analyse the costs and benefits of retirement, and the courses of action that we can take in anticipation of a lengthening lifespan. In trying to make sense of old age by writing of his later life and memoirs, he acknowledges The Maxims of Francois, Duc de La. Rochefoucauld, and views life’s later stages and travails with a wry and clear-eyed detachment.
Unafraid to grasp the realities of the decline of physical independence he steers us through medical practice, bureaucracy and “healthspeak” as well as loss and bereavement. His often light-hearted personal anecdotes reveal a serious point, one being that the ageing are also assume a growing responsibility for the aged.
Sir Alan Peacock is one of the better known British economists of recent times. He has combined an academic career with activist engagement in policy, and is probably best known for The Peacock Report on the Financing of the BBC (1986). He has been successively a wartime sailor (1942–45); reader in public finance at the London School of Economics (1951–56); professor of economics in four major universities (1957 to date); a senior civil servant as chief economic adviser to the Department of Trade and Industry (1973–76); principal and then vice chancellor (president) of Britain's only independent university, Buckingham (1979–85); and consultant and adviser to a wide range of international agencies, governments and professional bodies. Now a professor emeritus, he is an honorary professor in public finance at Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University.
His contributions to economics and to public affairs have been recognised by eleven honorary degrees, fellowships of the British Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) and the Italian National Academy. He was awarded the Royal Medal of the RSE in 2002, having previously been knighted for public service in 1987.