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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

The key to longevity 


Francisco Sebastian
Francisco Sebastian

According to Prince, the musician, “the key to longevity is to learn every aspect of music that you can”. I can assure you that the opposite is true: my musical ineptitude and desire to play the guitar have attracted threats from neighbours. AC/DC guitarist Angus Young’s recipe for a long life is “drinking embalming fluid every year”. I have not tested this theory, instead sticking to Sophie Tucker’s advice: “the secret of longevity... is to keep breathing!” 

This issue covers the drivers and consequences of longevity. The approach may not be as original as the aforementioned artists’ suggestions, but it is likely to resonate with actuaries. 

An obvious first step towards increasing longevity is minimising the events that shorten life. Stress, often exacerbated by the office environment, is a common one, and something that actuaries cannot escape. Mike Blake and James Bennett discuss ways to reduce stress both individually and in the corporate environment. 

Another factor threatening longevity is coronary and heart disease; Elena Kulinskaya and Lisanne Gitsels present their (very encouraging) research on the impact of statins on longevity. Nay Wynn, meanwhile, elaborates on obesity – a direct cause of heart malfunction and premature death.

Longevity itself is not exempt from challenges, mostly linked to financial wellbeing. To this end, Catherine Donnelly proposes innovative decumulation solutions that pool longevity risk, and Howard Kearns assesses the impact of longevity on pension schemes and its interaction with interest rate risk.

I hope this issue brings a rigorous discussion of topics that affects us all, both personally and professionally – enjoy the read! 

PS – While I have not been able to demonstrate it yet, I suspect that joining The Actuary editorial team may have a positive impact on longevity. Even if I’m wrong, the experience is definitely worth it. We are currently looking for qualified actuaries to join the team. Check the volunteering section of the IFoA’s website for more information! 

Francisco Sebastian


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