Shifting views on old-age dependency

To be held on Tuesday, October 22, at Armourers’ Hall


  • Sarah Crofts (ONS)

  • Les Mayhew (Cass Business School)

  • Alistair McQueen (Aviva)

  • Catherine Foot (Centre for Ageing Better)



As publisher of reports entitled The Dependency Trap and The Death of Retirement, the CSFI has been in the forefront of debate about economic activity in an ageing population. Far too often it is assumed that the growing number of older people will be an albatross around the neck of the young.

So it is with some delight that we have invited Sarah Crofts, head of the Ageing and Demography Centre at the ONS, to open our debate on “old-age dependency” with a rather more upbeat view. With people working until later in life – including getting on for 1½ million aged 65-plus – it is time to update the approach.

Catalysts have been increased in the state pension age, particularly for women, and the abolition of a default retirement age. Yet, the same old basis is used for the “old age dependency ratio”: people aged 65-plus compared with those aged 16-64. The ONS’s paper, Living longer and old-age dependency, suggests a more sophisticated “active dependency ratio”, taking into account projected increases in economic activity at older ages.

  • Sarah Crofts leads several strands of work on the measurement and characteristics of the UK population. She has led the Census design and production of migration figures. She also heads the international Titchfield City Group on Ageing and Age-disaggregated data.

We also welcome to the panel:

  • Les Mayhew, Professor of Statistics at Cass Business School and author of two CSFI reports on the ageing population. His civil service career included senior roles at the Department(s) of Health and Social Security and the Treasury. He is also Managing Director of Mayhew Harper Associates.

  • Alistair McQueen, Head of Saving & Retirement at Aviva, which has 6 million individual customers and more than 20,000 employer clients. He leads Aviva’s investment in fuller working lives via the delivery of “mid-life MOTs” for employees aged 45-plus, supporting their wealth, work and wellbeing needs.

  • Catherine Foot, Director of Evidence at the Centre for Ageing Better, has since 2015 led the Centre’s work to build the evidence of what works to support people to enjoy later life. Her previous roles include Assistant Director of Policy at The King’s Fund and Head of Policy at Cancer Research UK.

This is an important issue, with many economic and political angles. If you (or a colleague) would like to join us, please let us know by emailing or by calling the Centre on 0207 621 1056. As usual, there will be a sandwich lunch.

Kind regards

Jane Fuller