Understanding Longevity

R. Dale Hall

How many years are humans expected to live in the future, and what is the anticipated limit? What is driving the overall changes in mortality improvement? How are older generations potentially changing the concept of retirement? These questions were part of the larger discussion around aging and human mortality at the recent 2017 Living to 100 Symposium in Orlando, Florida.

Good Research Reads

Data Visualization
The Society of Actuaries (SOA) has released a collection of papers designed to encourage new ways to communicate actuarial work through data visualization techniques. The papers examine data visualization concepts to be used in a number of business sectors, from health care and pensions to predictive analytics and financial services.

Challenges and Opportunities of Longevity
The SOA worked with Ernst and Young to conduct a literature review on longevity topics, from analytics to the social and economic implications of an aging population.

PBA Implementation Guide
The SOA released a research report to provide a better understanding of the key considerations an insurer would encounter in working with a principle-based framework for determining reserves and risk-based capital (PBA).

This global symposium is quite unique since it brings together gerontologists, actuaries, academics, and other researchers and business professionals in the same room to discuss longevity. The symposium had several recurring themes, including the differences in mortality across the world, challenges with illness and finance for the aging workforce/population, and how community and social connections have a positive impact for the elderly.

Additionally, keynote speaker Nir Barzilai, professor of Medicine and Genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of the Institute for Aging Research, spoke about what drives centenarians and how the drug Metformin may be able to address the aging process. This insightful talk focused on feeling young despite older age, with an emphasis on prevention of diseases for those at an older age.

Biochemist Judith Campisi, another keynote speaker, presented on age suppression and extending longevity. Her discussion focused on why age is the largest single risk factor for developing a variety of diseases. For more details on her presentation, read the Sarasota Herald Tribune article, “While Awaiting Miracle Drugs, Eat Your Veggies.” Marketwatch’s article, “How to Fund a Long Retirement,” provides a recap of presenter Vickie Bajtelsmit’s session on the impact of the connection between lifespan and wealth.

We also discussed the impact of technology, both from a medical and financial perspective, including the gig economy and its potential for the semi-retired. A monograph of the symposium will be published later this year. For more updates, visit Livingto100.SOA.org.

Looking to the future, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) continues to develop research on longevity and mortality topics as part of the SOA’s 2017–2021 strategic plan. We are focusing on several key research topics, and, obviously, longevity factors into this strategic program.

Also, don’t forget, the SOA published the MP-2016 mortality improvement scale this past October. Access the scale and other recent experience studies on our mortality research area of the website.

We encourage you to visit SOA.org for more research on longevity and mortality.

Related Links
Human Mortality Database
Actuaries Longevity Illustrator

R. Dale Hall, FSA, CERA, MAAA, is managing director of Research at the Society of Actuaries.