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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Living for longer


Francisco Sebastian
Francisco Sebastian

Global long-term longevity extension trends are well known to both actuaries and non-actuaries. These trends are developing slowly in most parts of the world, but could that pace change?

Most of us with a professional interest in this topic can name four factors affecting longevity improvements: nutrition, hygiene, healthcare and medical technology. The first three have contributed significantly to longer lifespans worldwide, and their effects are well understood. It is also likely that, going forward, their incremental contribution to longevity will be smaller in the developed world, with the bulk of the effect taking place in developing countries. 

As most people live in places where there is room for meaningful improvement in nutrition, hygiene and healthcare, the global population’s total lifespan could continue to expand rapidly. However, longevity is unlikely to change drastically as a result of those three areas. The fourth factor, medical technology, is less understood; artificial organs are frequently cited as a potential game-changer with regards to boosting life expectancy. 

In this issue, we discuss some of the nutritional and healthcare topics that are critical to longevity but also have broader economic and social implications. In our interview, noted sports scientist and professor Tim Noakes challenges conventional medical wisdom and discusses the ‘nutrition paradox’, while Mark O’Reilly investigates the relationship between animal produce and cardiovascular disease. We also look at how technology can be used to improve outcomes and increase efficiency in the healthcare sector; Paloma Valdés and Lisa Balboa (p26) provide insights on the latest developments in the field

And we address the mortality topic directly: Kirstie Mok analyses findings of the CMI Mortality Projections Committee, while Torsten Kleinow, Andrew Cairns and Jie Wen discuss the relationship between deprivation and mortality in the UK.

Enjoy the read! 

Francisco Sebastian



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