Club Vita's Top Charts: Life Expectancy Trends Around the World

In this regular column, Club Vita's longevity experts will help you visualize the often abstract world of longevity risk by introducing their own personal favorite charts.

In this edition Longevity Consultant, Nick Chadwick, takes a closer look at recent changes in life expectancy in different countries around the globe.


Question:

The slowdown in longevity improvements has hit the headlines, but how does experience stack up against comparator countries around the globe? And how does life expectancy from age 65 compare?

Answer:

Life expectancy improvements for many countries seem to have declined in recent years, although on the whole life expectancy is still improving. We’ve looked at seven comparator countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan the Netherlands and the USA.

  1. Current life expectancy: Life expectancy for US males lies in 6th place, ahead only of Germany and the Netherlands. There is still a lot of work to do to catch up with the leading pack.
  2. Recent trends: Bad news for the USA and Germany who have seen the joint lowest improvements over the period 2010 - 2015.
  3. How the trend has changed over time: The UK has seen the biggest slowdown in improvements since 2010. However this needs to be considered in the context of the very high levels of improvements seen in the UK between 2000 and 2010, which were the highest of all the nations considered.

The chart below shows how male period life expectancy at age 65 has changed in the different countries in our sample for the periods 2000-2010 and post-2010.

Key takeaways

  • All eight countries have seen substantial increases in life expectancy since 2000, and life expectancy continues to grow.
  • However the current rate of improvement is depressed in a number of countries, not just the USA, but Germany, the UK and Canada.
  • Despite some progress during the 2000s, the USA is well behind the leading nations. This gives us hope that there is plenty of room for improvement in the coming decades if we can learn lessons from those countries.

Source: Human Mortality Database. University of California, Berkeley (USA) and Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Germany). Available at www.mortality.org or www.humanmortality.de (data downloaded on
28 September 2018). With the exception of data for Canada life expectancy in 2015 which is the three year average from 2014-2016 from Statistics Canada’s life tables:
https://www.statcan.gc.ca/

The key questions for pension plans and insurers are:

  • Will these levels of improvements continue or revert back to the good old 2000s?
  • Wherever you are around the globe, are national trends relevant to your particular mix of individuals?

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