A Widening Gap in Life Expectancy Makes Raising Social Security’s Retirement Age a Particularly Bad Deal for Low-Wage Earners

Link: https://sections.soa.org/publication/?m=58953&i=668685&view=articleBrowser&article_id=3731911&ver=html5

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Many recent studies find the life expectancy gap is growing. By how much depends on how and when it’s measured. In 2014, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) calculated that a 65-yearold man in the upper quintile (fifth) of life earnings could be expected to live more than three years longer than a similar man in the lowest quintile. By 2039, the difference would double to six years.

In a 2015 report, the National Academy of Sciences compared the 1930 and 1960 birth cohorts and found that life expectancy for the bottom quintile of men at age 50 decreased slightly to 26.1 years over the 30-year period. Meanwhile, life expectancy rose for men age 50 in higher-income quintiles. As shown in Figure 1, the life expectancy gap between the bottom (quintile 1) and top fifth of the income distribution widened from 5.1 to 12.7 years. In 2016, a Brookings study found, for men born in 1940, those in the lowest income decile at age 50 could expect to live to be about 76 years old compared with 88 years for the highest income decile. Another research team, led by Raj Chetty, found that disparity in longevity continued to increase over 2001–2014; the average gap between the bottom and top 1 percent was 14.6 years for men and 10.1 years for women.

Author(s): Karl Polzer

Publication Date: August 2020

Publication Site: In the Public Interest, SOA

2021 U.S. Mortality News Explainer: Life Expectancy, Death Rates, and More

Link:https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/2021-us-mortality-news-explainer?s=w

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Here’s a graph for 1999 through the provisional 2021 result (as of 3 April 2022 data from CDC WONDER):

You can see the crude rate is higher than the age-adjusted rate for most of the years, and that’s due to the aging of the population. Basically, the Boomers have been getting older, and their older ages (and higher mortality compared to where they were in 2000), have an effect on how many deaths there are overall — thus the crude rate continually increasing as there are more and more old people.

However, until the pandemic hit, the age-adjusted death rate in general decreased, though we had a few years in the 2010s in which the age-adjusted death rate did increase… and yes, that was due to drug overdoses. We will get to that in a bit.

In any case, both the crude rate and age-adjusted rates did jump up by a lot in 2020 due to the pandemic, and COVID deaths were even higher in 2021. But there were other causes of death also keeping mortality rates high in 2021.

I will point out that even with all this extra mortality, the age-adjusted death rate in 2021 is still below where it was in 1999.

That does not mean things are hunky-dory.

This is one of the dangers of collapsing death rates into a single number. The increase in death rates has differed by age group, and it has been far worse for teens and young adults through even young middle-age than it has been for the oldest adults.

Yes, COVID has killed the oldest adults the most, but their death rates have increased the least. It’s all relative.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 13 Apr 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Mortality Angle of the Russian/Ukrainian Conflict: Bad Even Before Pandemic

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-angle-of-the-russianukrainian?s=w

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It may not be fair to throw Finland in there, but if the excuse is hard-drinking and being northerly, Finland has that in excess, and they are beating all those other countries in life expectancy. So that’s not the difference.

Note that all the ex-Soviet states except Russia and Ukraine also had the post-USSR fall from 1989-1994… but started their mortality improvement in 1994, as opposed to a decade later.

Poland started doing well the moment communism went away. Isn’t that interesting?

But I want to note that Ukraine and Russia are lagging the comparable countries hugely. To be sure, Russia is huge, and includes Siberia, which is not the most congenial of locations. But Ukraine doesn’t have the excuse of Siberia.

Both places, in short, suck when it comes to mortality.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 27 Feb 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

9 Ways to Strengthen Social Security

Link: https://www.aarp.org/retirement/social-security/info-2022/benefits-current-status-future-stability.html

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How did we get here? ​​As long predicted, demographics explain a good deal: In a decade, the entirety of the boomer generation — some 70 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — will have hit retirement age. As a result, the number of people receiving Social Security benefits come 2034 will be more than double the beneficiaries in 1985. ​​

But what wasn’t known as accurately was how much longer those boomers would live. “From 1940 to 2019, life expectancies at age 65 have increased by about 6.5 years,” says Amy Kemp, chair of the Social Security Committee of the American Academy of Actuaries.

The impact: Many workers will be receiving benefits for a longer period of time. And those with higher incomes, which are generally those who receive higher benefit amounts, tend to live longer on average. ​

Author(s): John Waggoner

Publication Date: 1 March 2022

Publication Site: AARP

Mortality Angle of the Russian/Ukrainian Conflict: Bad Even Before Pandemic

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-angle-of-the-russianukrainian?utm_source=url

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These are awful trends. There’s nothing to caveat. Yes, Ukraine’s life expectancy is a little bit higher, but these numbers are awful, and yes, there was a cratering of male life expectancy after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I will note that there was a general slide from the early 1960s until the early 1980s… a run-up for some reason (falsifying data?), and then absolute cratering. That’s just hideous.

Dropping about 5 years over a 5-year period is a horrible decrease.

There has been a recovery since 2004, but that life expectancy is still very low compared to other European countries, even other Eastern European countries, as we’ll see below.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 27 Feb 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

2021 Academy Legislative/Regulatory Review

Link: https://www.actuary.org/sites/default/files/members/alerts/pdf/2022/2022-CP-1.pdf

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The American Academy of Actuaries presents this summary of select significant regulatory and
legislative developments in 2021 at the state, federal, and international levels of interest to the U.S.
actuarial profession as a service to its members.

Introduction

The Academy focused on key policy debates in 2021 regarding pensions and retirement, health, life,
and property and casualty insurance, and risk management and financial reporting.


Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing ever-changing cyber risk concerns, and analyzing
the implications and actuarial impacts of data science modeling continued to be a focus in 2021.


Practice councils monitored and responded to numerous legislative developments at the state, federal,
and international level. The Academy also increased its focus on the varied impacts of climate risk and
public policy initiatives related to racial equity and unfair discrimination in 2021.


The Academy continues to track the progress of legislative and regulatory developments on actuarially
relevant issues that have carried over into the 2022 calendar year.

Publication Date: 15 Feb 2022

Publication Site: American Academy of Actuaries

American Academy of Actuaries: Some Estimates of Pandemic-Related Life Expectancy Changes Can Be Misleading

Link: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-academy-of-actuaries-some-estimates-of-pandemic-related-life-expectancy-changes-can-be-misleading-301481737.html

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The American Academy of Actuaries has released a new public policy paper and issue brief cautioning that clarification may be needed regarding estimated life expectancy showing significant decreases in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Reports of considerable decreases in life expectancy driven by COVID-19 may certainly garner attention, but they can potentially be misleading when based on a technical measure that assumes heightened pandemic mortality will persist indefinitely,” said Academy Senior Pension Fellow Linda K. Stone. “Service to the public is core to the American Academy of Actuaries’ mission, and we would be remiss not to share the actuarial profession’s expertise to help the public interpret such reports.”

The Academy’s new Essential Elements paper, Clarifying Misunderstanding of Life Expectancy and COVID-19, which is based on a December 2021 issue brief developed by the Academy’s Pension Committee, Interpreting Pandemic-Related Decreases in Life Expectancy, cites the potential of confusion arising from recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates of significant life expectancy decreases primarily due to COVID-19. The CDC used a measurement known as “period life expectancy” to estimate life expectancy changes in 2020, publishing in July 2021 a preliminary estimate of a 1.5-year year-over-year decrease, and in December 2021 a final estimate of a 1.8-year decrease. However, the CDC’s methodology and the estimated decreases assume that the heightened mortality of the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020 year will persist indefinitely—an unlikely scenario.

Author(s): American Academy of Actuaries

Publication Date: 14 Feb 2022

Publication Site: PRNEWSWIRE

Interpreting Pandemic-Related Decreases in Life Expectancy

Link:https://www.actuary.org/node/14837

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Period life expectancy measures demonstrate fluctuations that reflect events that influenced mortality in this particular period.14 For example, the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 resulted in a dramatic decrease in period life expectancy, which was more than offset by an increase in period life expectancy the next year. A male baby born in 1917 had a period life expectancy of 52.2 years, while a male baby born in 1918 had a period life expectancy of only 45.3 years—a reduction of almost 7 years.15 The following year, a male newborn had a period life expectancy of 54.2, an increase of almost 9 years over the period life expectancy calculated in 1918 for a newborn male. These changes are much larger than those seen thus far with COVID-19, demonstrating the relative severity of that earlier pandemic relative to the current one.

It is instructive to review the impact of calculating life expectancies on a cohort basis, rather than a period basis, for these three cohorts of male newborns in the late 1910s. Using mortality rates published by the SSA for years after 1917, for a cohort of 1917 male newborns, the average life span was 59.4; for the 1918 cohort, average life span was 60.0; and for 1919, it was 61.5. Even these differences are heavily influenced by the fact that the 1917 and 1918 cohorts had to survive the high rates of death during 1918, while the 1919 cohort did not.

If both period and cohort life expectancy are measured as of 1920 for each of these groups (the 3-year-old children who were born in 1917, 2-year-old children who were born in 1918 and 1-year-old children who were born in 1919), differences are observed in these measures as they narrow substantially because the high rates of mortality during 1918 have no effect on those who survived to 1920. This is summarized in the table below.

Author(s): Pension Committee

Publication Date: December 2021

Publication Site: American Academy of Actuaries

Clarifying Misunderstanding of Life Expectancy and COVID-19

Link:https://www.actuary.org/sites/default/files/2022-02/EELifeExpectancy.pdf

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Basically, there are two life expectancy measures—
period life expectancy and cohort life expectancy.
Period life expectancy generally is based on the
assumption that current rates of death continue
indefinitely. Cohort life expectancy is more heavily
influenced by long-term expectations. Period life
expectancies can vary dramatically from one year to the
next when there is a short-term increase in mortality.

….

Period life expectancy can be a
useful metric for year-over-year
comparisons in normal times but
tends to exaggerate the effect of
nonrecurring events. Cohort life
expectancy is likely what most people
envision when thinking about the
concept of life expectancy because
cohort life expectancy is an estimate
of the actual number of years
that a typical individual might be
expected to live based on reasonable
expectations for future conditions.
For this reason, cohort life expectancy
is the measure used by the Actuaries
Longevity Illustrator that can help
individuals estimate how long they
might live.

Publication Date: Feb 2022

Publication Site: American Academy of Actuaries

Who Cares About Life Expectancy?

Link:https://contingencies.org/who-cares-about-life-expectancy/

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Life expectancy at birth (LEB) in the U.S. has grown about 50% since 1900, with most of the increase going to upper income groups. (See “Differences in Life Expectancy by Income Level”; Contingencies;July/August 2016.)Depending on the data source and the methodology used to determine it, LEB in the U.S. is about 77 and 82 for males and females, respectively.

I’m a retiree, so I’m more interested in life expectancy at age 65 (LE65). (OK, fine, life expectancy at a somewhat higher age is more pertinent for me, but LE65 is the more common measurement.) LE65 in America is about 18.2 and 20.8 for males and females, again depending on the dataset and methodology.

LEB and LE65 in America are calculated from a dataset of 330 million lives. Another dataset of 7.5 billion lives provides a LEB of 68 and 72 for males and females, a significant difference from the LEB mentioned earlier. The 7.5-billion-life dataset was the world population rather than the U.S. population subset. A meaningful LEB requires homogeneity of the underlying dataset.

Author(s): Bob Rietz

Publication Date: Jan/Feb 2022

Publication Site: Contingencies

Book Review: Lifespan

Link:https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/book-review-lifespan

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David Sinclair – Harvard professor, celebrity biologist, and author of Lifespan – thinks solving aging will be easy. “Aging is going to be remarkably easy to tackle. Easier than cancer” are his exact words, which is maybe less encouraging than he thinks.

There are lots of ways that solving aging could be hard. What if humans worked like cars? To restore an old car, you need to fiddle with hundreds of little parts, individually fixing everything from engine parts to chipping paint. Fixing humans to such a standard would be way beyond current technology.

Or what if the DNA damage theory of aging was true? This says that as cells divide (or experience normal wear and tear) they don’t copy their DNA exactly correctly. As you grow older, more and more errors creep in, and your cells become worse and worse at their jobs. If this were true, there’s not much to do either: you’d have to correct the DNA in every cell in the body (using what template? even if you’d saved a copy of your DNA from childhood, how do you get it into all 30 trillion cells?) This is another nonstarter.

Sinclair’s own theory offers a simpler option. He starts with a puzzling observation: babies are very young [citation needed]. If a 70 year old man marries a 40 year old woman and has a baby, that baby will start off at zero years old, just like everyone else. Even more interesting, if you clone a 70 year old man, the clone start at zero years old.

….

So Sinclair thinks aging is epigenetic damage. As time goes on, cells lose or garble the epigenetic markers telling them what cells to be. Kidney cells go from definitely-kidney-cells to mostly kidney cells but also a little lung cell and maybe some heart cell in there too. It’s hard to run a kidney off of cells that aren’t entirely sure whether they’re supposed to be kidney cells or something else, and so your kidneys (and all your other organs) break down as you age. He doesn’t come out and say this is literally 100% of aging. But everyone else thinks aging is probably a combination of many complicated processes, and I think Sinclair thinks it’s mostly epigenetic damage and then a few other odds and ends that matter much less.

Author(s): Scott Alexander

Publication Date: 1 Dec 2021

Publication Site: Astral Codex Ten

THE DARTH VADER RULE

Link:https://www.sav.sk/journals/uploads/1030150905-M-O-W.pdf

doi: : 10.2478/v10127-012-0025

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In life insurance mathematics, the concept of a survival function is commonly
used in life expectancy calculations. The survival function of a random variable X
is defined at x as the probability that X is greater than a specific value x. For
a non-negative random variable whose expected value exists, the expected value
equals the integral of the survival function. We propose to designate this result
as the Darth Vader Rule1. It holds for any type of random variable, although its
most general form relies on the integration by parts formula for the Lebesgue-
-Stieltjes integral, fully developed by H e w i t t [3]. This result, while known (and
stated in F e l l e r [1]), is not widely disseminated except in life insurance mathematics texts; but it is worth knowing and popularizing because it provides an
efficient tool for calculation of expected value, and gives insight into a property
common to all types of random variables.
We give a proof of the Darth Vader Rule which works for all random variables which are non-negative almost surely and whose expected value exists.
The proof is based not on the Lebesgue integral formulation of [3], but on the
generalized Riemann integration of H e n s t o c k and K u r z w e i l [2], [4]. Since
every Lebesgue integrable function is also generalized Riemann integrable, the
proof here includes all cases covered by [3].
While the result is simple to state and comprehend, its proof using Lebesgue
integral theory is somewhat complex.

Author(s): Pat Muldowney — Krzysztof Ostaszewski — Wojciech Wojdowski

Publication Date: 2012

Publication Site: Tatra Mountains Mathematical Publications