You are here

Mortality Research Steering Committee: priority research areas

One of the main responsibilities of the Mortality Research Steering Committee (MRSC) is to steer the Profession’s research relating to the demographic risks of mortality, morbidity and longevity. We have reviewed what we believe should be the priorities for research activity and have identified six areas.

1. Predicting future population mortality improvement

The IFoA (through the CMI) provides the Mortality Projections Model, which is a world-leading model that smooths recent trends in mortality and blends it into projected long-term mortality improvements. However, there is no equivalent robust and reliable method for deriving plausible population mortality improvement assumptions from more discrete data sources (such as a cause of death data), necessarily supported by subjective judgements. The MRSC wants to see a methodology created that does this, and our current approach is to use a bespoke multiple cause of death dataset provided by the ONS.

2. Forecasting trends in morbidity

Forecasting morbidity is currently a difficult task, as morbidity trends are complex, influenced by changes in the biological incidence of diseases and affected by changes in diagnostic techniques. We want to improve the understanding of these trends and their interactions to help maintain access to protection products serving a strong consumer need, and also provides richer insights into mortality and longevity trends.

3. Supporting the profession's efforts to resolve the challenge of providing older age care

In recent years the UK population has aged significantly and is expected to continue to age in the future. As a result, the number of people requiring good quality care has increased but the provision of the required care has not met the needs of society. The solutions that the actuarial profession can devise may help to address this issue and the MRSC can contribute to this.

4. Managing risk in products providing longevity protection

The risk management of longevity is still in its infancy and there are a number of aspects that could improve this:

  • Creation of an industry standard definition of all the risks behaviours underlying longevity risk.
  • Development of a method to benchmark the output of different risk models used by individual companies using this standard definition.
  • Identification of new ways to reduce risk using this standard definition to identify the intrinsic and avoidable risks.
  • Consideration of the differing longevity risk exposures of different kinds of beneficiaries

5. Tools and techniques used for analysing portfolio experience

The potential tools and techniques available to actuaries to analyse portfolio experience continue to evolve. Actuaries need to look beyond the traditional methods to decide what might best serve their clients. The following areas would benefit from investigation and communication to the actuarial community:

  • The potential new sources of data that can be used to enhance the assessment of portfolio experience.
  • The increased range of analyses that areas such as data science are bringing to the actuarial toolkit.
  • The assumptions being made by traditional and new techniques, and whether these are reasonable in the uses made by actuaries.
  • The relative advantages and disadvantages of these approaches, technically but also as regards interpretability and ease of implementation.

6. Communication of complex risk behaviours in ways that are easy to understand

Longevity, mortality and morbidity risks are complex and simplistic measures, such as expectations of life, do not provide reliable metrics for non-experts to base decisions upon. New means of communicating this complex behaviour are required that better serve the needs of stakeholders.

We have started to work on advancing the six areas above and we will publish any research and outputs on these areas via the IFoA website.

In October 2019 the MRSC held a Stakeholder Event. This included discussion of the MRSC’s six priority areas as well as discussion of alternative priorities. A summary of the discussions is available on the stakeholder event page.

We would welcome any further feedback or comments on our research priorities. Please let us know any comments at

Filter or search events

Start date
E.g., 27/01/2021
End date
E.g., 27/01/2021

Events calendar

  • India Town Hall

    28 January 2021

    Spaces available

    IFoA Immediate Past President John Taylor would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual India Town Hall 2021, hosted by John Taylor with IFoA Council Member Mahidhara Davangere and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann. 

  • Spaces available

    What are the options for the world economy looking ahead?

    In this Thought Leadership Lecture, Economist, Vicky Pryce, will be discussing world economic trends, including the differences in geographical performance and how output is recovering and where.

  • Spaces available

    Trust and Leadership for Actuaries

    Led by Dr. Jim Baxter, University of Leeds, this webinar introduces some key ideas in the ethics of trust, with a particular focus on those in, or on the path to, leadership roles. Dr Baxter is joined by a panel of experienced leaders who will give their personal perspectives on how they understand the value of trust and how they seek to promote and inspire trust, drawing on their experiences of leadership. The panel includes:

  • Health and Care Hot Topics webinar

    Online webinar
    10 February 2021

    Spaces available

    In this webinar, we have two presentations showing the latest research on the implications for life and health insurers of two key issues: genomics and pandemic risk.

    Dr Peter Joshi and Paul Timmers will share their research on how well-established underwriting processes can allow for genomics in predicting expected mortality and morbidity. They will then discuss the potential for stratified screening and personalised medicine to improve health and reduce claim costs.

  • Spaces available

    As the world’s attention begins to turn to COP26 later this year in Glasgow, Sarah Gordon (Chief Executive, Impact Investing Institute) will share her vision for how the financial services industry can deliver for people and the planet, as well as how to encourage more investment with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa Town Hall

    26 February 2021

    Spaces available

    IFoA Immediate Past President John Taylor would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual SSA Town Hall 2021, hosted by John Taylor with IFoA Council Members Mukami Njeru, Prosper Matiashe and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.

  • MENAP Town Hall

    2 March 2021

    Spaces available

    IFoA Immediate Past President John Taylor would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual MENAP Town Hall 2021, hosted by John Taylor and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.