Mortality Database Research and Explorations in Longevity

The SOA’s ongoing research on mortality R. Dale Hall

Mortality research is an area we continue to review, refine and revise based on mortality improvements. You probably are aware of the 2014 pension plan mortality tables and the 2015 mortality improvement scale. We continue to work with our Retirement Plans Experience Committee on future tables and improvement scale updates to better serve our members, employers and the public at large.

Good Research Reads


The Society of Actuaries (SOA) released a new paper examining pharmaceutical use from Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual plans in Kansas during the 2014 calendar year. To better understand how enrollment timing was related to relative costs, the population was divided into three categories based on enrollment date (continuing, first quarter and later enrollees). There appears to be a marked difference between the continuing enrollees, first-quarter enrollees who signed up for care during the initial enrollment period, and later enrollees who signed up for care.


The SOA and LIMRA released the first in a series of studies on retirement risks and opportunities in China. This study examines the retirement attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of consumers in China. This research looks at retirement risks, savings, available options, retirement goals, strategies for managing risks and how financial advisers are used in the marketplace.

As part of our ongoing experience studies research on mortality, we will support a major undertaking with new work on the Human Mortality Database (HMD). The HMD spans 38 countries and provides detailed mortality and population data to researchers, students, journalists, policy analysts and others interested in the history of human longevity. The University of California, Berkeley, the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) are working together on the new HMD developments. We have provided a grant to the university to create a historical time series of mortality tables specific to causes of death for eight populations (United States, Japan, England and Wales, France, Sweden, Norway, Canada and Chile). Another sponsored project will analyze U.S. life table series at a state level from 1959–2013. We look forward to the completion of these projects by year-end.

On the topic of mortality, there are two important events in development. We will co-host Longevity 12, the 12th International Longevity Risk and Capital Markets Solutions Conference. It takes place this Sept. 29 and 30 in Chicago. In January 2017, we will host the Living to 100 Symposium in Orlando. Our global symposium brings together actuaries, academics, gerontologists, and many other researchers and experts involved with longevity. Keynote speakers include Nir Barzilai, M.D., who will speak about “how to die young at a very old age,” and Judith Campisi, Ph.D., who will present on age suppression and extending longevity.

We also want to mention that the American Academy of Actuaries and the SOA developed the Actuaries Longevity Illustrator to provide individuals with perspectives on longevity risk—the uncertainty of how long an individual and his or her spouse or partner might live.

We encourage you to visit for more research on mortality and aging.

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R. Dale Hall, FSA, CERA, MAAA, is managing director of Research at the Society of Actuaries.