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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Actuaries find no improvement in longevity last year

There was no improvement in longevity last year in England and Wales, with mortality actually worsening compared to 2011, according to analysis carried out by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Mortality longevity death
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The total number of deaths in England and Wales in 2012 was 499,000 – 15,000 more than in 2011 and in excess of the total for any of the three previous years.

In its analysis of the latest Office for National Statistics’ data, the Profession found that mortality worsened by 1% over last year for the combined male and female population – after a 3.8% improvement in 2011.

Last year also saw the trend continue towards men experiencing greater improvements in mortality in relative terms than women, as men’s mortality improved by 0.2% and women’s worsened by 2%.

The Profession noted, however, that this was significantly less than the average annual improvements of 2.8% for men and 2.2% for women seen over the 10 years to 2011.

The gender gap between men and women’s longevity remains ‘significant’, it said, with women continuing to live longer than men.

Worsening mortality rates were particularly prevalent among older ages – men over 75 and women over 65 – last year, in contrast to recent experience where the last 20 years have seen pensioners in particular benefit from ‘unprecedented’ improvements in mortality rates.  Gordon Sharp, of the Profession’s Continuous Mortality Investigation group, said: ‘ONS last year announced reductions in the estimated numbers of very old people in the population, which is changing estimates of mortality rates at high ages (above 85), but these figures show a genuine worsening of mortality for many of the over-65s.’

Sharp stressed that because mortality rates can vary significantly on a year to year basis, it was important not to read too much into one year’s figures. He also noted that the figures for 2012 were estimates.

However, as policy makers continue to look for solutions to the challenges faced by an ageing population, it continues to be important to ensure that mortality figures and trends are properly analysed,’ he said.

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