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Interdisciplinary research in mortality/longevity/morbidity

This call for research closed on 31 August 2010 and the content on this page is for information only

Actuaries have been active in the study of mortality since the earliest days of the profession and it remains an area where actuaries can contribute to the quality of public debate and lead in the development of new thinking.

The ageing population and increasing longevity are welcome evidence of social and health improvements in our society but raise new issues that are of concern to us all. This continues to be an area where the Actuarial Profession can act in the public interest by working with other disciplines, for example in the medical, social sciences and demographic fields. Combining the expertise of actuaries with that from other disciplines will substantially improve our ability to understand mortality and morbidity risk. In 2010, the Profession wishes to move the debate forward by funding external interdisciplinary research in this area up to a total £100,000. We intend this work to build on the platform created by the Mortality Research Steering Committee and to catalyse future research across disciplines that we hope will have a major and far-reaching impact.

Background

With lower inflation and interest rates in recent times, the importance of mortality risk to actuarial practice has increased, just as the difficulties in predicting future mortality have become more apparent. Society as a whole, government, and industry, are all having to deal with an ageing population and increased life expectancy. In 2006 the Actuarial Profession recognised that collaboration with other disciplines offered an opportunity to better understand past, present and future trends and it set-up a multi-disciplinary Mortality Research Steering Group.

The group quickly established the potential benefits of a multidisciplinary approach, particularly in relation to the availability, reliability and granularity of data. An initial scoping study was followed by events which culminated in the successful Joining Forces conference on mortality and longevity held at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh on 21-22 October 2009. This conference brought together leading academics, researchers and practitioners in actuarial and medical science to consider, debate and share knowledge and has created a solid platform for research in this area. The conference reinforced the view that actuaries must link up with and understand the work of others as an input to their work and, crucially, to influence the direction of future research.

The call for research

The Profession would welcome proposals in the three themes underpinning the Joining Forces conference:

I.   Understanding the drivers for change in mortality and longevity, for example:

  • What exactly causes death rates to continue to fall?
  • What is the scope for current trends to continue?
  • Understanding the closing gender gap in mortalit
  • What will be the impact of future medical advances?
  • What would be the impact of future behavioural/social/environmental changes?

II.   How will successive cohorts differ and why

  • Are those now reaching old age in some way different to previous generations in terms of their intrinsic biology and exposure to risk?
  • How will younger generations differ, and why?

III.   How far can the approach to drilling down to individualised risk help in exploring the connections between populations and individuals including the impact on mortality of biological and life style risk factors such as nutrition, exercise, and alcohol consumption?

Areas with immediate practical impact:

  • The development of mortality/morbidity models – this could include new methods or modelling methodologies from other areas of statistics/mathematics/science, incorporating cause of death, the potential for using stochastic models
  • Analysis of alternative datasets e.g. pensioners, different socio-economic groups
  • Modelling and/or projecting different populations (e.g. different geographic regions, different socio-economic groups, migrant populations).

The public interest

Research into mortality and/or morbidity that will help move forward the current debates around:

  • Long term care/the retirement age/healthy ageing
  • The social and financial consequences of changes in mortality/longevity and morbidity
  • The impact of mortality on the economics of pensions: public spending and education.

Awards

Three awards were subsequently made:

  • University of Southampton and Barnett Waddingham LLP - Bayesian Modelling of Mortality Projection Uncertainty
  • Heriot-Watt University - Mortality Models for Multiple Populations using Covariates
  • King’s College London - Genetic risk profiling for common diseases

Dr Gerard Kennedy ASA of the University of Southampton of the research team of himself, Professor Jon Forster, also of the University of Southampton and Mr Neil Robjohns FIA of Barnett Waddingham LLP said: “Mortality projection is of vital importance to the actuarial profession, but is subject to uncertainty, and it is critical that such uncertainty be accurately quantified. Currently, uncertainty quantification, if performed at all, is done within the context of a single mortality projection model. However, there is no universally agreed such model, and fully coherent uncertainty quantification should also account for model uncertainty. Bayesian statistical methodology provides a fully coherent framework for estimation in the presence of model uncertainty, but practical implementation within the context of mortality projection is under-explored, and will form the main focus of our research. Potential benefits of this research would be improved pricing and assessment of risk exposures and capital requirements in respect of longevity risk transactions, greater understanding of and confidence in the quantification of both mortality projection uncertainty and the tail of longevity risk, and improved management of such risk.”

 

Dr Torsten Kleinow of Heriot-Watt University said: "Our project willdevelop new mortality models for multiple populations. These models will be based on covariates; in particular smoking prevalence. Our aims are to refine predictions of mortality rates, and explain differences between mortality rates for different cohorts and populations."

 

Professor Cathryn Lewis of King’s College London said: “Genetic studies have identified genes contributing to the common, complex disorders that confer a major public health burden, such as heart disease and diabetes. This raises the prospect that individual-level genetic screening can be used to identify those at increased risk of such diseases, which will have implications for actuarial practice.  This research proposal will develop statistical models for genetic risk profiling, providing a framework for investigating genetic risks at a population level.”

 

Contact Details

If you have any questions or wish to discuss any aspect of our funding for member-led research please contact the Research and Knowledge Team:

arc@actuaries.org.uk

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Events calendar

  • ARC Sessional Research Event: Drivers of Mortality - Risk Factors and Inequality

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    6 January 2020

    Spaces available

    The authors will focus on a large dataset obtained from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) and related sources. Data are available at the level of Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) – small geographical areas with, typically, 1000-2000 residents and include death counts, exposures and a significant number of socio-economic variables including the index of multiple deprivation (IMD).

  • SIAS Event: My Journey to Data Science, Big Data and AI

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    7 January 2020

    Spaces available

    Patrick Lee is an actuary who has made the transition to working in software architecture and artificial intelligence (AI). He holds Microsoft Professional qualifications in Data Science, Big Data and AI and is currently working towards a DevOps (the automation of software testing and deployment) qualification. He is a member of the IFoA Council and is also President of the Wessex Actuarial Society. He is also a member of the IFoA and the RSS's joint Data Science Focus Group and will talk on the ethical use of AI. 

  • Spaces available

    This IFoA event for NEDs explores what skills and experience are required to undertake non-executive roles, e.g. as independent NEDs on fund boards or members of IGCs. The event will be chaired by Brandon Horwitz, an actuary who is a consultant and who has held various investment governance roles and who specialises in investment governance as well as being an iNED.

  • Spaces available

    This presentation covers the detail for how the matching adjustment is calculated. A small simple example spreadsheet is provided and discussed in detail.

    For actuaries wanting to get more involved with the matching adjustment, this is the opportunity to get a detailed description of the mechanics involved. This includes cashflows derisking, PRA tests as well as hypothecation.

    The presentation is provided by James Sharpe who has worked on a number of matching adjustment calculations with several firms.

  • IFoA Volunteer Recognition Reception

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR, UK
    15 January 2020

    Spaces available

    As a thank you to all our Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) volunteers, you are invited to join us at Staple Inn Hall, for an evening of drinks, canapes and networking, in London.

    IFoA President, John Taylor, will be attending and will make a speech

    If you support the IFoA as a volunteer (member or non-member), or in any other role, and you are going to be in London on 15 January, please book your place and join us at this reception.

     

  • Sessional Meeting - Operational Risk Dependencies

    Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 9 Queen St Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    20 January 2020

    Spaces available

    The Operational Risk Working Party aims to assist actuaries and others in the modelling and management of operational risk. One of the key challenges in modelling operational risk is the modelling of dependencies between operational risks, and between operational and non-operational risks such as market, credit and insurance risk.

  • KSS event in Glasgow: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson, Glasgow 20 Waterloo St, Glasgow
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Stirling: Public Sector Pensions

    M&G Prudential, Stirling Craigforth Campus, Stirling
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Edinburgh: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson 1, Exchange Place, Semple St, Edinburgh
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • The Great Risk Transfer – Breakfast briefing and launch event

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    31 January 2020

    Spaces available

    Launch of the IFoA’s 2020 thought leadership campaign The Great Risk Transfer. The campaign will examine the trend of the transfer of risk from institutions to individuals, and how people can be better equipped to manage the financial risks they now face. At this breakfast event the IFoA will launch a call for evidence on this topic.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (11 February 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    11 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Sessional: Impact of E-cigarettes Working Party

    Royal College of Physicians, 9 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    24 February 2020

    Spaces available

    This sessional meeting will be of direct interest to actuaries and others working in the in the Health and Care, Life or Pensions sectors or indeed actuaries with an interest in morbidity or mortality. Note: Registration is from 17.30 in time for the sessional to begin at 18.00.

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (25 February 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    25 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • What does this mean for Actuaries serving as NEDs and Trustees? These areas are likely to provide ne

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London. WC1V 6DR, UK
    19 March 2020

    Spaces available

    Recent years have seen ESG, Climate Change, and Responsible Investing thrust onto the corporate agenda in every boardroom. The same also be said for pension funds. Expectations of how companies should respond are high and NEDs on Boards are expected to adapt and adjust their guidance to companies accordingly. What does this mean for Actuaries serving as NEDs and Trustees?

  • Spring Lecture 2020, Edinburgh - Vicky Pryce

    Assembly Rooms, 54 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2LR
    25 March 2020

    Spaces available

    What next in Economic Policy?

    Please join us on 25 March 2020 for our annual Spring Lecture presented by Vicky Pryce in Edinburgh. 

  • IFoA Asia Conference 2020, Kuala Lumpur

    CCEC Nexus, 7, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    24-25 June 2020
    Spaces available

    The sixth annual Asia Conference once again offers a prestigious line-up of home and international speakers discussing the insurance and financial industry’s innovation and change in Asia. This year's conference in Kuala Lumpur will be hosted by Tan Suee Chieh, IFoA’s first Asian President. He will also make his Presidential address at this conference and will expand on the important elements of IFoA’s new strategy. 

    Additionally, this landmark conference will showcase how the IFoA is reinventing itself to support its members to succeed and thrive in a digital age, within traditional businesses and beyond, as a global organisation. 

    Not to be missed by international industry players, opinion formers, academic and industry leaders, actuaries and non-actuaries.