Mortality Postponement and Compression at Older Ages in Human Cohorts

Speaker: David McCarthy (University of Georgia)

Date: 7 June, 1-2pm UTC time zone (11pm-12am AEST Sydney, Australia) (for other time zones click here

Mortality Postponement and Compression at Older Ages in Human Cohorts

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Abstract: A key but unresolved issue in the study of human mortality at older ages is whether mortality is being compressed (which implies that we may be approaching a maximum limit to the length of life) or postponed (which would imply that we are not). We analyse historical and current population mortality data between ages 50 and 100 by birth cohort in 19 currently industrialized countries, using a Bayesian technique to surmount cohort censoring caused by survival, to show that while the dominant historical pattern has been one of mortality compression, there have been occasional episodes of mortality postponement. The pattern of postponement and compression across different birth cohorts explain why longevity records have been slow to increase in recent years: we find that cohorts born between around 1900 and 1950 are experiencing historically unprecedented mortality postponement, but are still too young to break longevity records. As these cohorts attain advanced ages in coming decades, longevity records may therefore increase significantly. Our results confirm prior work suggesting that if there is a maximum limit to the human lifespan, we are not yet approaching it.

About the speaker:


David McCarthy academic work focuses on inter-generational transfers and risk sharing, the analysis of mortality risks, annuities, financial sector regulation and retirement system design and operation. He has had a varied career in academia, industry and government. Before completing his PhD at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, he worked as an actuarial trainee in a large life insurance company in his native South Africa. Subsequently, he worked in academia at Oxford University and Imperial College, London, where he started and ran an actuarial MSc program. Before joining the University of Georgia, McCarthy took a sabbatical from academia to advise the National Treasury of South Africa on financial sector regulation, public-sector pensions and retirement reform. He is a Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries, Edinburgh, UK.



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