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CMI Model shows modest fall in cohort life expectancy, after adjusting for exceptional 2020 mortality

The Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) has released the latest annual update to the CMI Mortality Projections Model, CMI_2020.

Mortality rates in England and Wales in 2020 were on average 12% higher than in 2019 because of the coronavirus pandemic. This is the largest year-on-year increase in mortality rates since 1929, and mortality rates in 2020 were the highest we’ve seen since 2008.

The CMI Model is used by UK pension schemes and insurance companies which need to make assumptions about future mortality rates. While mortality experience in 2020 will affect actuarial calculations, it is likely to be an outlier and not indicative of the future path that mortality rates will follow. For this reason, the core CMI_2020 model places no weight on the data for 2020 when projecting mortality rates into the future.

CMI_2020 produces cohort life expectancies at age 65 that are about four weeks lower for males and one week lower for females than in the previous version of the CMI Model, CMI_2019.

Cobus Daneel, Chair, CMI Mortality Projections Committee, said:

“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in exceptional mortality in 2020, and we have seen the biggest year-on-year increase in mortality rates for over 90 years. We recognise that to see the full picture we need to consider deaths from all causes – not just those directly liked to COVID-19 – while allowing for a growing and ageing population. For this reason we are publishing weekly updates to our mortality monitor during the pandemic which focus on excess deaths relative to age-standardised mortality rates in 2019.

“The main purpose of the CMI Model is for pension schemes and insurance companies to make assumptions about future mortality rates. Our proposal to place no weight on 2020 mortality experience received strong support from these users, who view it as a sensible and pragmatic approach. Users can modify the Model to take account of data for 2020, fully or partially, if they choose.”

The CMI Mortality Projections Model (the “CMI Model”) was introduced in 2009 to replace previous projections and has been updated on a broadly annual basis since then. It is based on mortality data for the population of England & Wales, published by the Office for National Statistics.

Life expectancy for different groups, such as particular pension schemes and groups of policyholders, can vary considerably, and the CMI encourages users of the CMI Model to make appropriate assumptions for the purpose that it is being used for.

For more information on the CMI Mortality Projections Model, CMI_2020, please see the FAQs.

From April 2020 to date, the CMI Mortality Projections Committee has produced a weekly mortality monitor with a focus on ‘excess deaths’ during the pandemic.