Academic journal article Generations

Our Guest Editor

Academic journal article Generations

Our Guest Editor

Article excerpt

A year and a half ago, when the Generations editorial board planned this issue on health and income security, they could hardly have foreseen that our social insurance programs would now be at the center of an intense and politicized national debate. But the board also chose the right guest editor to guide an informed and thoughtful consideration of these programs and their role in the real lives of past, current, and future generations of Americans.

That is what Robert Friedland has long been doing as a health economist and the founding director of the Center on an Aging Society at Georgetown University. He is a widely published researcher with a broad range of policy experience, including as chief economist for Maryland's Medicaid program, senior research associate at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and staff economist for the U.S. Bipartisan Commission on Comprehensive Health Care, better known as the Pepper Commission.

Friedland came to domestic public policyand aging-through the route of economics. Keenly interested in health and savings behavior, he saw that very few people save for retirement. One of Friedland's goals became to inform policymakers; to help them define the problems and think through potential solutions. Generations asked him, as a veteran of Washington policy debates, for his current perspective:

"My view is that these programs are always changing, as part of basic budget politics," Friedland said. "But the difference now is that we are in the midst of a cultural war over the meaning and purpose of responsibility, collective versus individual. …

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