Life Expectancies Are Declining Slightly in Private Pension Plans

Society of Actuaries director hints at opioid crisis, societal issues as cause.

Private pension funds are seeing a small decline in how long their beneficiaries live, according to new data from the Society of Actuaries.

Although the percentage change in plan member life expectancy was not significantly smaller, the numbers have gone down for both white- and blue-collar workers between 2006 and 2012, regardless of gender. The 2012 end point of the study reflects the data collection available to date.

From the total data aggregate, men live to be about age 84.7 years, compared to 85.0 in 2006, but women’s average lifespan was unchanged at 87.4. But for women, perhaps due to a statistical anomaly, there’s a fall-off when they are divided into blue- and white-collar workers. Life expectancies dipped a tiny bit for blue-collar women (86.9 versus 86.7) and more so for white-collar women (88.5 down to 87.9).

The slide among men showed much the same pattern, with less of a drop for blue-collar males (84.3 to 84.1) than for white-collar ones (86.7 to 85.9).

Dale Hall, managing director of research at the Society of Actuaries, told CIO reasons for the mortality decline could be the type of businesses the pension plans cover, as well as issues affecting the total US population over the past decade.

“There’s a lot of new diseases, Alzheimer’s, the opioid epidemic effect, other things that are impacting the way mortality improvement has happened over time,” said Hall.

For CIOs and plan sponsors, their liabilities will also decrease slightly. Liabilities in blue-collar women and older men will shrink up to 1.5%, while liabilities for younger blue-collar men could see up to a 1.7% reduction.

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Society of Actuaries Sees Pension Obligations Shrinking Slightly
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How Long Do Retired Public Employees Live?


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