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Longevity Trivia

11/11/2012

I keep thinking about my classes on longevity, and there are a few unrelated things that seem to resonate more than others.

For example, life expectancy rises with both education and income.  Perhaps, the reasons are obvious, but since those people are more likely to have a financial advisor, then the average life expectancy of our clients is longer than that of the general population.  That means we should assume the actuarial tables on mortality are too low.  We should assume our clients live longer than the tables indicate.

Also, the 2-3 life expectancy advantage that women enjoy at birth narrows with age.  For example, an 80-year-old female has only a few months advantage over a typical 80-year-old man.  More interesting, men are LESS likely to be disabled at death than women.  That is largely because men are more prone to acute illness such as heart attacks and major strokes, while women are more prone to chronic illness such as bone loss and TIAs or mini-strokes.

There are 41 different actuarial tables, and actuaries argue vociferously about which one is best.  They agree with each other about as much as hyper-partisan Republicans and Democrats agree with each other.

Actuaries actually have a sense of humor??  Who knew??  Do you know the difference between an actuary and a mafia don?  The actuary knows how many people will die each year, but the mafia don knows who they are.

With 78.4 years of life expectancy, the U.S. is number 50 in the world.  (China is number 51 at 74.7 years.)  The longest life expectancy is found in Monaco, where they expect to live 89.7 years.  The nation of Afghanistan is dead-last at number 220 with an average life expectancy of 45.0 years.  Makes sense to me — Monaco is a wealthy, peaceful enclave with a wonderful climate, while Afghanistan is a heavily-armed hell-hole with a dreadful climate.

The next time you wake up at 3AM and cannot fall back asleep, go to the website for actuaries, which is www.soa.org.   SOA stands for the Society of Actuaries . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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