Pensions - Articles - We are bottom of the league

New figures published today by the Office for National Statistics comparing different countries shows a dramatic fall in the UK’s relative position when it comes to improving life expectancies. The figures come as the latest weekly death statistics for England and Wales show the eighth consecutive week that the number of deaths has exceeded the average for the last five years

 In the most recent six years, the UK has fallen to bottom of an international league table of life expectancy improvements for women, and second bottom for men, with only the US having a worse record. In the previous six years, the UK was one of the top performers.

 Although many countries have seen a slowing in the improvement in life expectancy, several Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Denmark and Finland, have seen large and increasing improvements in life expectancy.

 Commenting, Steve Webb, Director of Policy at Royal London said: ‘The UK has slumped from being one of the strongest performers when it comes to improving life expectancy to bottom of the league. There is a real human cost behind these statistics and we urgently need to understand more about why this is happening. The current extreme summer weather is clearly taking its toll in the short-term, but there are also big, longer term factors at work. The Government needs to conduct urgent research into these worrying trends. If other countries can ride out economic storms and continue to drive up life expectancy, there is no reason why the UK should not be able to do so’.

 Commenting on the implications of the figures for pensions and the pensions industry, Helen Morrissey, pensions specialist at Royal London said: ‘The assumption that we will continue to enjoy dramatic improvements in life expectancy continues to be challenged. Planned increases in the state pension age will need to be reviewed to take account of the latest data, and company pension schemes may find that their liabilities are lower than expected. Much more work is needed to understand the reasons for this data so that pension funds and pension providers understand whether this is a temporary slowdown or part of a much longer-term trend’.

 New figures from the Office for National Statistics on life expectancies

 ONS figures on number of deaths has exceeded the average for the last five years 


 Herschel Mayers, CEO VitalityInvest and VitalityLife, commented: “Despite today’s figures highlighting a slowdown in the rise in life expectancy, the UK population is still living longer than ever. However, Vitality understands that people instinctively live for today rather than prepare for tomorrow. When it comes to later life, many don’t start saving soon enough or take steps to arrive there in good health, meaning they cannot make the most of their retirement. It’s clear that more needs to be done to address these challenges and to encourage a change in behaviour towards savings and wellness that will not only be good for the individual, but good for society as a whole.”

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