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More People in the UK Are Dying Than Expected

The results demonstrate that, after decades of improvement in the risk of death and life expectancy, the risk of death for individuals in the UK has been higher since 2011 than forecasts based on prior trends.

According to a Bayes study on mortality rate reductions over time, the slowdown among women after 2010 has been especially severe, raising concerns about predictions of future population growth, the feasibility of pension plans, and inequalities in the UK.

According to a recent analysis, men and women in the UK are more likely to die than expected, which might have a significant effect on the future viability of pension plans. The Bayes Business School study, which examines mortality rates for those 50 to 95 years old, offered a bleak picture for both men and women in the UK.

The patterns of mortality rates between 1960 and 2010 were examined in an analysis of 21 high-income nations during a 50-year period, and it was then investigated if what had occurred after 2010 matched the predicted trends.

The data shows that, after decades of improvement in the probability of dying and life expectancy, since 2011 the probabilities of dying for people in the UK are higher than forecasts based on the earlier trends.

Additionally, there is a clear distinction in gender. It is most visibly seen in UK women, whose annual average reduction in mortality risk has dropped from 2.1% (2000–2010) to 0.84 % (2011-2017). The improvement rate for males in the UK is at its lowest point (1.18%) in nearly 40 years.

The results revealed a trend in female mortality rates that were worse than predicted in 19 of the 21 nations studied. The UK was rated 17th worst for women and 19th worst for men among the 21 assessed nations.

Co-author Professor Steven Haberman, of Bayes Business School, says these negative trends in the UK may be attributed to the negative consequences of the Government’s austerity policies after the 2008 recession and higher-than-normal levels of winter deaths.

Professor Haberman, a Professor of Actuarial Science, believes the findings pose an alarming trend and have sizeable societal implications following the proposal to increase the state pension age from 65 to 68 by 2046.

“If these rates of mortality improvement are lower, it means that State pensions, private pensions, and annuities are cheaper to fund. This means, for example, that defined benefit pension schemes (like USS) are probably in a better financial situation than expected.

“That has implications because it is government policy to increase the state pension age on the basis that people are living longer. But this might not now be the case. We might be making people work for longer and then be faced with a shorter time in retirement to enjoy our pension. So, has the retirement age been pushed up too quickly? The answer may be yes.”

Other findings from the report show that the speed at which mortality rates are improving in Denmark is significantly ahead of the rest of Europe. Additionally, the mortality improvement rates of women in Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands were noticeably worse on average after 2010, than other countries, for example, worse than France, Germany, and the UK.

The countries in which men’s mortality rates are improving most noticeably are Norway, Denmark, Ireland, and Belgium, although it is a more balanced trend than in women. The picture is different for men in the UK, Italy, and Germany, who have shown the slowest improvements in Europe.

Reference: “The slowdown in mortality improvement rates 2011–2017: a multi-country analysis” by Viani B. Djeundje, Steven Haberman, Madhavi Bajekal and Joseph Lu, 2 July 2022, European Actuarial Journal.
DOI: 10.1007/s13385-022-00318-0

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