Membership consultation and mortality in retirement
Work Longer, Live Healthier
New research - Work Longer, Live Healthier - suggests that, contrary to popular belief, those retiring earlier don't necessarily have a healthier retirement. The paper then considered whether raising the state pension age would have an adverse effect on health, and concluded that, on the basis of its consideration of early retirement, it would not.
The author acknowledges that there are issues with some of the data. For example, it may include people who retire early, because they are in ill health already. Furthermore, people retiring early may do so because they are unhappy in their job or with their life and hope a change of circumstance may be a miracle cure, which it may not be; so they may be predisposed to depression. Or they may have been pushed into early retirement through redundancy, which is generally not good for mental health. The author tries to address these issues by casting his net wider.
I wondered whether it would have been useful to compare post-retirement mortality for men who retire at normal retirement age (NRA), for two pension schemes with similar employees but different NRAs, say, 60 and 65, and to see if those with an NRA of 60 die younger. Obviously, early / ill-health / late retirements would be excluded from the data, it would simply be two mortality tables, one for men in Scheme A, who had retired at their NRA of 60, and one for Scheme B, who had retired at their NRA of 65. Such a comparison may already be in the public domain and, if so, I apologise. Similarly, mortality is not the same as being unhealthy, but there must be some correlation! The comparison would not be perfect - for example, those in the scheme with an NRA of 65 may have a slightly higher pension owing to longer service .
I also wondered whether the IFoA had been approached for input. But that is a different question.
Nicola Foote, 18 May
I write regarding various consultations to which the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) regularly responds. I have recently raised a concern with respect to one particular consultation response, and I commend the IFoA and its employees for attempting to address my concerns in a serious and prompt manner, but this letter attempts to engage on a broader issue.
My understanding is that consultation responses are currently drafted within the relevant Communication and Consultation Working Party, after which there is a review and sign-off by the relevant Practice Executive Committee (PEC), and then a final review and sign-off by the Public Affairs and Consultations Committee (PACC).
I further understand that it is quite unusual to solicit the opinions or input of individual members of the IFoA during the drafting period for the following reasons: short turn-around times, resource limitations within the IFoA, and the unwillingness to further burden the volunteers on the working parties.
While I am sympathetic to all the above challenges it seems to me quite unsatisfactory that the first time the IFoA's general membership learns of the Institute and Faculty's official position on a given issue is at the point of publication. I am not suggesting that members of a working party, or a PEC, or the PACC will have biases, but surely the IFoA would benefit from broader input on any given issue - especially when the issue is on the outer edges of some of the more obscure corners of actuarial practice (as was the case with the particular consultation response about which I raised a concern).
This is even more important when an IFoA consultation response is likely to be deemed by the broader community as a definitive actuarial position, despite the fact that there may be quite a diverse range of opinion within the general membership of the IFoA - opinion that is not even solicited, let alone considered.
I acknowledge that any individual member of the IFoA may offer his or her services to a working party or PEC by formally nominating, but that rather misses the point. In addition, that option is clearly limited to a finite number of eager candidates, otherwise the working parties and PECs would be swollen beyond recognition.
When speaking on behalf of the membership of the IFoA, surely the membership should have their opinions or input solicited? Logistically it may prove to be a challenge, but efforts need to be made to address the current unsatisfactory situation.
Richard Hartigan, 31 May
Philip Scott, IFoA past president, replies:
Mr Hartigan raises an important issue, but also highlights the real logistical challenge we face as a professional body with over 24,000 members.
The IFoA values the considerable efforts of the many members who contribute to consultation responses through the Practice Executive Committee Consultation Committee structure. The PECs recognise this expertise offered by members and regularly seek to expand the Consultation Committees' reach.
While we recognise that not all members are able to commit time to volunteer, the IFoA will look at ways of making the membership aware of what public consultations we propose to respond to - for example, by publishing a list of 'live' public consultations on the IFoA website. This way, members can decide whether they wish to contribute their time or views to the relevant drafting committee.