Spotlight on Longevity: Mortality improvements - what changed in 2012 and 2013?

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.

Here we investigate how recent improvements varied by cause of death. We find that respiratory diseases and dementia play an increasingly significant role among the very elderly, where assumptions can be most significant for portfolios of annuitants or pensioners. Both incur many more deaths in harsh winters, such as that of 2012-13. The impact in those years was heightened by the diminishing effect of 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.

Our Longevity services team produces regular commentaries on topical issues in the management and transfer of longevity risk known as 'Spotlight on Longevity'.

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