Mere Mortals: The Limits of Longevity Gains

Mere Mortals: The Limits of Longevity Gains

Americans are living longer and enjoying better health than in any period in our history.

This trend is well understood by the insurance industry, while the implications in terms of providing for a longer retirement are not always grasped by the population at large. As our linked article describes, limiting factors on longevity growth are coming under scrutiny. The implications are important for both public policy and the industry, so let’s examine them.

The author reports on a recent study by the Society of Actuaries, which suggested that the rise in American longevity may have peaked in 2017. Higher rates of accidental death, Alzheimer’s and suicide were to blame for reduced longevity rates over the last year.

The changes were not isolated to the last year, researchers said: in fact, the trend dates back to 2010. The population group aged 25 to 56 has been hardest hit by declining life expectancies. What is going on?

In some ways, US healthcare performs better than its counterparts in other developed countries. Americans have access to better treatment for cancer, high blood pressure and cholesterol issues. Unfortunately, the US lags in many ways: greater infant mortality, more homicides, more accidental and drug-related deaths and a disturbingly long list of other causes of mortality.

The US spends more on healthcare than any other nation in the world. How can we explain this underperformance? Numerous factors are in play. The US still suffers from disproportionate child poverty and the early years of one’s life lay the foundation for longevity. Crucially, it must be understood that not everyone is living longer – perhaps unsurprisingly, people in the upper income brackets have seen the greatest longevity boost, while less-affluent and poorer groups have lagged behind.

For more information, please read:
What the Numbers Really Tell Us About Living Longer in Retirement | Wealth Management


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