Life - Articles - Shifting longevity one of biggest risks to pension schemes

ONS data released today on death registrations showed that there were 581,363 deaths registered in England and Wales in 2023; this was 4,203 (0.7%) more deaths than in 2022, and 27,528 (4.7%) more deaths than the five-year average (2017 to 2022 excluding 2020).

 In England, 544,054 deaths were registered in 2023, which was 3,721 (0.7%) more deaths than 2022 and 25,895 (4.8%) above the five-year average; in Wales, 36,054 deaths were registered, which was 360 (1.0%) more deaths than 2022 and 1,521 (4.2%) above the five-year average.

 There were more male deaths registered (295,416 deaths) than female (285,947 deaths) in 2023, continuing the trend seen in 2021 and 2022.

 Deaths were above the five-year average in every English region in 2023; the region with the largest percentage of deaths above the five-year average was the South-West of England (6.3% higher), and the region with the smallest was London (0.8% higher).

 Commenting on the data, David Hamilton, Chief Actuary at Broadstone, said: “With an ageing population, the Covid-19 pandemic and a struggling NHS, it’s no wonder that we’ve seen mortality rates inch upwards over the past few years.
 “While the data points to the pandemic as the main driver behind the uptick in mortality rates, this potentially glosses over some more fundamental long-term problems and systemic issues that could affect the population for decades to come. Understanding and allowing for these longevity risks will likely become an increasingly important consideration for insurers and those running and supporting pension schemes, as pressures on the NHS continue to swell and accessibility to effective healthcare declines.
 “For DB pension schemes, a longer-term view is crucial. Having taken huge steps to reduce interest rate and inflationary risks over recent years, shifting longevity is increasingly becoming one of their biggest areas of risk.
 “With life expectancy becoming increasingly difficult to project, trustees, sponsors and insurers alike should make sure they are considering this key area of uncertainty to better understand the financial implications of alternative scenarios.”

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