John Piggott named in Australia Day honours

By UNSW Media  Friday, 31 January 2020  Features

​Governor-General and Chancellor of the Order of Australia, The Hon. David Hurley has named Scientia Professor John Piggott an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2020 Australia Day Honours List.

Professor Piggott was officially honoured for his distinguished service to education, to population ageing research and to public finance policy development.

"I do feel that it is an honour," Professor Piggott said.

"But at least in my case, much of the achievement has been a team effort. I see the honour, in considerable part, as a recognition of what the team around me has delivered."

Professor Piggott is the Director of the Centre of Excellence in Ageing Population Research (CEPAR). He has recently co-chaired the T20 Taskforce on Population Ageing, a global challenge that the UN has defined "unprecedented, enduring, pervasive and profound".

"As people live longer and produce fewer children, the ageing population will place more and more stress on current economic systems. Productivity will be deeply affected, economic growth will slow, and social security systems will become less fiscally sustainable as population ageing advances," the Scientia Professor said.

"But an ageing demographic is a time bomb only if policy makers do not do enough to anticipate it."

Piggott's research is focused on defusing the time bomb. His T20 Taskforce provided population ageing policy recommendations to global G20 member governments in Japan last year. The recommendations included urgent tax system reform, easy-to-understand financial products, such as lifetime annuities, and universal access to healthcare and long-term care for the elderly.

In 2015 Piggott established the CEPAR Australia-China Ageing Research Hub. The hub investigates the economic and health implications of population ageing in China, such as pension and social security reform, labour supply, and disability prevalence. This has now expanded into an "AgeingAsia" hub, with support from the Business School. 

An impressive portfolio of international research success led to Piggott's peer-led nomination as Scientia Professor in 2011. His long list of career achievements began at UNSW in 1988, where he was a Professor and Head of the School of Economics. By 1992, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia had named him a Fellow. Within a decade, Piggott became a Director of the UNSW Professorial Superannuation Fund and founded the Centre for Pensions and Superannuation.

Throughout the following decade, he served as Acting Dean and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Commerce and Economics (now UNSW Business School) and was a visiting scholar at Wharton (USA). Piggott also sat on the Australian government's Treasury Academic Panel, the Ministerial Superannuation Advisory Committee and the Henry Tax Review Panel.

Piggott led the team that was awarded the first ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing award in 2010. The Centre received a further seven years of funding in 2017. He has served as a member of the ARC Laureate Fellowship selection committee and the ARC College of Experts. He was also an ARC Australian Professional Fellow.

In addition to his current roles, Piggott is a visiting professor at Zhejiang University in China, and a research fellow at the CESifo and IZA Institutes of Labour Economics in Germany. He is a Commissioner on the US National Academy of Medicine's project on developing a "Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity".

The Order of Australia recognises Australians who have demonstrated outstanding service or exceptional achievement. An Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) is recognised for distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or to humanity at large.

Candidate nominations for the 2021 Australia Day Honours List are currently open


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