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Use of Big Health and Actuarial Data for understanding Longevity and Morbidity Risks

This five-year research programme was commissioned in 2016 to develop new methods for assessing basis risk and evaluating longevity improvement based on Big Health and Actuarial Data.

Programme objectives

  • identification and quantification of the key factors affecting mortality/longevity such as lifestyle choices, medical conditions, and/or interventions
  • modelling of temporal changes in the factors affecting morbidity and mortality
  • evaluation of plausible scenarios in mortality trends due to particular medical advances or lifestyle changes in the population of insureds of relevance to the actuarial community
  • tools to forecast longevity risk of a book based on realistic scenarios of uptake of various health behaviours and/or interventions, or of particular disruptions to population health.
The multidisciplinary University of East Anglia (UEA)/Aviva team was led by Prof Elena Kulinskaya and included actuaries, statisticians, health economists, computer scientists, and medical researchers. The funding supported three PhD students and a postdoctoral researcher.  Below is a summary of what was achieved to date.

Research outputs

Life expectancy calculator

On 3 September 2020, the research programme launched to help illustrate the effect of various medical and lifestyle factors on life expectancy. The Mylongevity app uses big data from anonymised electronic health records in England and Wales to calculate life expectancy, taking into account socio-demographic and health characteristics such as chronic diseases.
The new app could potentially bring practical benefits, such as helping people plan for retirement. It could also contribute to scientific understanding of how certain behaviours and lifestyles affect longevity.
The app uses calculations based on UK life expectancy figures published by the Office for National Statistics and then refined by the researchers. The ARC Programme identified and quantified the key factors affecting mortality and longevity and translated the results of their analysis into life expectancies for different risk profiles.
The R package behind is available on GitHub for companies to download (Software Rtools40 will need to be installed). It can be used as an app in bulk format, e.g. 100,000 clients, or adapted using company parameters, population or weights. The R package currently works under R version 3.4.2 (64-bit) only. The package includes programs to calculate life expectancy based on the Cox proportional hazards model and landmark analysis combined with the Gompertz baseline risk, as used in the programme’s MyLongevity app. The R package also provides co-called double-Cox modelling for stroke, TIA, HRT and type 2 Diabetes.



The research team have presented their findings at top actuarial and statistical conferences, including the Actuarial Teachers and Researchers Conference (Dublin 2021), International Conference in Actuarial Science, Data Science and Finance (2020), Insurance Data Science Conference (Zurich 2019), International Congress of Actuaries (Berlin 2018), International Biometric Society Conference (Barcelona 2018), International Society for Clinical Biostatistics Conferences (Vigo 2017, Belgium 2019), Mortality and Longevity Symposiums (2016, 2019), Life Conference (2017), Royal Statistical Society conference (2017, 2019) and Actuarial Research Conference (2016).

Contact Details

If you want more information about our research programmes please contact the IFoA Actuarial Research Centre:

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  • Spaces available

    At retirement, it has become very popular for those with Defined Contribution (DC) pensions to choose drawdown rather than an annuity, but drawing a sustainable lifetime income in this way is an impossible challenge for most people. We consider a Decumulation Pathway for the typical consumer, where a small part of the DC fund is set aside for any flexible access and legacy requirements. The bulk is then used to provide a lifetime income, utilising the pooling or insuring of longevity risk.

  • CILA 2022

    23 May 2022 - 24 May 2022

    Spaces available

    We continue to live in a world of global uncertainty. Survival depends on our ability to simultaneously navigate through the diverse root-causes, ranging from: the consequences of Climate Change; transitioning to Net Zero; increased inflationary pressures and supply chain issues; to self-imposed changes in regulatory requirements. CILA 2022 focuses on these challenges to ensure we continue to be informed and remain battle ready, as well as showcasing highlights of recent CMI outputs.

  • Spaces available

    In the spirit of fostering the IFoA’s vibrant, global community and enabling our members to participate, we have decided to hold our AGM virtually again this year. This allows for greater accessibility to this important annual event, and for greater accountability of our organisation.

    The Business of the AGM

  • The IFoA Conference 2022

    133 Liverpool St, London EC3A 7BX and Online
    22 June 2022 - 23 June 2022
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    We’re delighted to welcome you back to our first in-person conference since early 2020, also being delivered virtually in our first-ever hybrid event. The theme of our inaugural two-day conference is ‘Focusing on tomorrow’s actuary’ and will explore the contribution actuarial science is making to some of tomorrow’s biggest issues.