After many years of rapid mortality improvements in the UK population, 2012 and 2013 saw significantly lower gains. Indeed, at an all-causes level, female mortality deteriorated, while males showed only very modest improvements, although the picture varied by age.
Investigating mortality by cause of death has provided some insight into the lower mortality improvements in recent years. Respiratory diseases and dementia play an increasingly significant role among the very elderly, the ages at which assumptions can be most significant for portfolios of annuitants or pensioners. These conditions are observed to incur many more deaths in harsh winters, such as that of 2012-13 which was especially prolonged.
The impact in those particular years was heightened by diminishing gains from circulatory diseases, which had propelled the historically high rates of mortality in the recent past.
This also suggests that we may experience greater volatility in future years. Cause of death data for 2014 are not yet available but all-causes deaths data suggest that overall mortality improvements returned to a higher level in 2014, while death rates have been particular high in the early part of 2015.