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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Longevity Bulletin explores data issues and obesity

The latest issue, edited by 
Alison O’Connell FIA, focuses on life expectancy data and the importance of correctly interpreting the life expectancy indicator being used. Making a clear distinction between period life expectancy and cohort life expectancy, the bulletin explains that life expectancy does not always measure expected lifespan. The publication also refers to recent demographic research on how life expectancy is itself becoming an increasingly limited indicator.

A round-up of longevity research news highlights obesity as a mortality risk of current concern. Research from the US suggests that obesity will not cause a decline in life expectancy, as other positive trends continue to dominate. Despite much uncertainty, life expectancy has only ever declined in a few countries subject to 
specific and significant negative mortality risk. The research round-up also looks at competing explanations for why mortality is higher in Scotland than in England and Wales, concluding that there does appear to be a ‘Scottish effect’, not yet fully explained.

The bulletin reviews the recent 
Emerging Trends in Mortality and Longevity Symposium, held in September, and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ 
Autumn Lecture by Sir Harry Burns, 
chief medical officer for Scotland, and highlights other longevity-related news and events from the profession.

Longevity Bulletin aims to be accessible to a non-technical audience as well as to pension scheme trustees, actuaries, heads of research in companies and others who need to keep up to date on the latest thinking and best practice.

To receive future issues, email longevitybulletin@actuaries.org.uk