2018 mortality projections reveal lower life expectancies than previous years

The life expectancy for a 65-year-old is lower than any other previous cohort assessed by the Continuous Mortality Investigation’s (CMI) Mortality Projections Model 2018 (CMI_2018).

Publishing the updated mortality projections, the CMI acknowledged the “growing consensus” within the industry that, while mortality will continue to improve, the rates of mortality improvement over the next decade will be slower than the very high rates of improvement seen in the first decade of this century.

When compared with the previous CMI_2017 Model, cohort life expectancies at age 65 are around five months lower for both males and females, at 19.8 years and 22.4 years, respectively.

The CMI Model estimates current mortality improvements by smoothing historical mortality rates. The smoothed data suggests that mortality improvements peaked some time ago with the highest improvements seen in 2004 for males and in 2006 for females.

The version released today uses data for calendar years 1978-2018 and has been adjusted to place more weight on the lower mortality improvements in recent years. The resulting lower estimates of current mortality improvements lead to lower cohort life expectancies.

Commenting, CMI Mortality Projections Committee chair Tim Gordon said: “It’s now widely accepted that mortality improvements in the general population since 2011 have been much lower than in the earlier part of this century. Average mortality improvements between 2000 and 2011 were typically over 2 per cent per year but have since fallen to around 0.5 per cent per year.”

However, he noted that the causes of the slowdown, and whether these current low improvements will persist, remain a subject of considerable debate. He said the CMI_2018 Model itself reflects increasing evidence that the lower level of improvements may be due to medium or long-term influences, rather than just short-term volatility.

“The changes to the latest model are designed to reflect evolving thinking on the most appropriate methods. The CMI seeks to provide reliable data and, more importantly, analysis to help those working in pensions and insurance to understand how mortality may change in the years ahead. Since October 2018, we have also been providing analysis on England & Wales population mortality every quarter. This allows us to track mortality through the year and better understand how it will impact future mortality projections.”

In addition, Aegon pensions director Steven Cameron noted that while the life expectancy figures for males and females have fallen slightly again, they still show men age 65 will on average live till 87 and women to 89.

“The decline in defined benefit pensions, means people are no longer guaranteed a pension income for life other than the state pension. Under pension freedoms, people are increasingly choosing flexibility but in doing so taking on responsibility for using their pension pot across an unknown future lifespan. Taken together, it means people more than ever before need a realistic understanding of how long their retirement may last and many will benefit from seeking advice."

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