Where Illusions Are Few and Far Between

Those folk who advise and control vast sums of money can afford few illusions, and certainly no ignorance. So it is that actuaries, financial managers in the insurance industry and similar figures form one part of our culture comparatively well-educated on the prospects for healthy life extension.

Blue chips underestimate cost of rise in longevity

Consultancy firm Lane Clark & Peacock has warned that this is due to underestimating future increases in life expectancy and remaining heavily invested in equities.

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More than a quarter of FTSE 100 pension schemes updated their life expectancy assumptions in 2006, adding an average 1.5 years to the estimated life expectancy of a pensioner aged 60 in the UK, according to the firm.

Research has shown that people born between 1925 and 1945 were living far longer than expected and actuaries have begun using a "medium cohort" adjustment, which reflects these improvements in mortality rates.

But the consultancy said that even the updated allowances for future life expectancy may not be enough. It added that each extra year of life expectancy adds around 12 billion pounds to pension liabilities.

Any form of betting against increased health and longevity in the decades ahead is looking to be increasingly unfortunate, risky or outright foolish, depending on when the bet in question was first initiated. But we shouldn't feel at all sorry for those taking massive losses - money is a far less valuable or fundamental asset than years of healthy life. Given the latter, it's quite trivial to produce more of the former, after all.

As longevity increases, we all benefit, even those who bet on death.

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