Personal Pension  

Life expectancy consistently over-estimated: research

Projections for life expectancy after retirement have proved to be overly optimistic in recent years, according to research from the International Longevity Institute that could dampen calls for an acceleration in retirement age reforms.

A debate in the House of Lords yesterday (5 March) and led by ILC-UK and specialist insurer Partnership Assurance Group stemmed from an analysis of the 2011 Census data which found there were 30,000 fewer people in their 90s than estimates based on previous censuses suggest.

This represents a shortfall of 15 per cent. Similar shortfalls have been noted in the US, where the 2004 US Census projected that there would be 114,000 centenarians in 2010, when the actual figure was only 53,364.

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On top of that, the Office for National Statistics’ 2013 population projection data showed that life expectancy for someone aged 65 in 2012/13 had been repeatedly revised down, and now stands significantly below previous projections.

In the same research in November last year, however, Ons continued to asset the number of people of state pension age would increase by 31 per cent from 12.3m last year to 16.1m by mid-2037 despite planned increases to state pension age.

The data prompted calls from many quarters for the government to accelerate increases in the state retirement age beyond those already planned.

Richard Willets, director of longevity for Partnership, said: “While we naturally want to be optimistic about life expectancy, it is vital that the statistics that are used to determine public spending, state pension age and retirement income are as accurate as projections can be.

“Analysis of the 2011 Census and Ons population projections suggest that this may not be the case and that we need to seriously consider how we collect and use this data.”