British Actuarial Journal

Sessional meetings: papers and abstracts of discussions

Scoping Mortality Research: (Report of the Mortality Research Steering Group)

C. Macdonalda1

a1 The Actuarial Profession, Napier House, 4 Worcester Street, Oxford, OX1 2AW, U.K. Tel: +44(0)1865 268238; E-mail:


The Actuarial Profession is currently undertaking a review of its research strategy, and has decided to focus more resources on researching mortality developments. It is important that the profession is involved in partnerships with researchers from outside of the profession, bringing actuarial expertise into closer contact with other disciplines. We believe that collaboration between these different areas of expertise will provide important new insights in understanding mortality trends. This report represents the first step by the Mortality Developments Scoping Project Steering Group to map current research into mortality developments across a wide range of disciplines. The steering group is aware that the themes and literature discussed in this report are not exhaustive; however it does include areas of research not normally covered by the Actuarial Profession. The steering group welcomes comments on the report and suggestions for any areas which may not yet have been covered.

The main aim of this report is to provide an overview of the key areas of research into mortality developments across a wide range of disciplines, as well as areas of overlap and gaps in the research. The literature described is compiled from recommendations received by the Mortality Developments Scoping Project Steering Group from experts from different disciplines working in the area of mortality.

Key themes identified from recommended literature:

— the role of medicine in mortality reduction;

— the role of lifestyle and environment in mortality reduction, including smoking, socio-economic conditions and obesity;

— causes of death contributing to mortality reduction, in particular coronary heart disease;

— mortality reduction attributable to differing age groups;

— the relationship of active life expectancy to total gains in life expectancy;

— evidence of cohort effects on mortality improvement; and

— future trends in mortality developments.

Areas of overlap identified from recommended literature are:

— the overlap between literature examining the role of medicine in mortality decline and the influences on the decline in mortality from coronary heart disease; and

— the areas of overlap between various disciplines working in the field of mortality developments.

Gaps identified in recommended literature are:

— a lack of recommendations from social policy;

— few papers recommended on the role of lifestyle and behavioural factors on mortality;

— few papers recommended on causes of death other than coronary heart disease; and

— few papers recommended on potential threats to future mortality improvement.


  • Mortality Improvements;
  • Cohort Effects;
  • Cause of Death;
  • Ageing;
  • Longevity;
  • Life Expectancy