The latest life expectancy figures are out –What do they mean for pensions?

Craig Moran from First Actuarial’s Demographic Assumptions Working Group comments on the latest Mortality Projections Model from the CMI

This week the CMI (Continuous Mortality Investigation of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries) released the latest version of its Mortality Projections Model, also known as CMI_2019.

What are the key findings, and what does it all mean for trustees and employers with pension schemes?

Mortality Projections – The headline findings

Improvements in mortality over 2019 – at just under 4% – are some of the highest seen over the last 10 years.

This means that for most ages, projected life expectancies are higher than those calculated using CMI_2018, around 0.2% higher for males and 0.4% higher for females. Projected life expectancies remain lower than in all other earlier versions of the model.

Improvements for males aged 97 to 100 are slightly lower than last year.

How does this compare with previous years?

The tables below compare the projected life expectancies from CMI_2019 with previous years:

Male aged 65 Female aged 65
2016 22.71 24.94
2017 22.53 24.79
2018 21.99 24.27
2019 22.04 24.37

Technical bit: Life expectancies are calculated using the S3PA mortality base tables, assuming a long-term rate of improvement of 1.5% p.a

Recent mortality trends

Mortality over 2019 has been lower than in any previous year considered (there have been fewer deaths than the long-term average would suggest). This is shown in the solid black line in the chart below.

The same pattern can be found when looking at rates of mortality improvement, which have been well above the average over the last 10 years, again shown by the solid black line in the second chart below.


Chart 2L


Chart 2M


Differences between populations

While averages are useful, we should bear in mind that mortality improvements can vary significantly between different populations.

The CMI notes that in England and Wales, mortality improvements in less deprived areas have been about 1% a year higher than those in more deprived areas.

These findings are echoed in the recent report Health equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 years on, which demonstrated a clear link between life expectancy and area deprivation.

What does all this mean for pension trustees and sponsors?

Trustees and employers will be keen to gauge the impact of the latest projections. We estimate that for valuations in 2020, life expectancies could be around 1% to 2% lower compared to typical assumptions that may have been adopted three years ago.

Trustees and sponsors with scheme valuations in 2020 may see a small reduction in liabilities as a result of adopting the latest set of mortality projection tables.

The data and charts used in this article have been prepared by and/or on behalf of Continuous Mortality Investigation Limited (CMI). The CMI does not accept any responsibility and/or liability whatsoever for the content. The CMI does not (i) warrant its accuracy; or (ii) guarantee any outcome or result from the application of any of CMI’s work. You assume sole responsibility for your use and for any and all conclusions drawn from its use. CMI hereby excludes all warranties, representations, conditions and all other terms of any kind whatsoever implied by statute or common law, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law. © Continuous Mortality Investigation Limited.

Any questions or comments about this article?

Get in touch with the author, Craig Moran.

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