Showing posts with label age. Show all posts
Showing posts with label age. Show all posts

Jul 27, 2013

Actuarial Public Debt

The current definition of Public Debt is very poor. Only accrued past debt and current budget deficits are measured; no future obligations.

Hot from the press, the 'actuaries' behind the 83rd BIS Annual Report 2012/2013 show us the impact of the commitments to future spending on pensions and health care that are missing in current measure of public debt.

Age-related liabilities as a share of GDP, are projected to rise considerably between 2013 and 2040 in a number of countries.

Please notice that reforms enacted after December 2011, are not included in the next graph.

Actual Public Debt
End 2012, the impact of age-related liabilities on the actual public debt was calculated and analyzed by Stiftung Marktwirtschaft, in cooperation with the Research Centre for Generational Contracts.

In a report called "Honorable States? The Sustainability of European Public Finances in Times of Crisis" they calculated the effects for Europe as follows:

Reforming Social Security 
Without going into details, this graph makes perfectly clear that even an attitude of 'just managing debt' is hopeless and doomed to fail.

'Restructuring public debt' will only be possible if we have the courage to fundamentally restructure our social security system of pensions and health care. The sooner, the better.....

For those who still had hope on a positive U.S. outcome, just take a look at the debt-outcome of two non-EU countries:

Concluding Reflections
To get a sound picture of a country's financial sustainability, a first step would be to annually report real(istic) balance sheets on basis of actuarial public debt, e.g. debt including age related future obligations like state pensions and health care.

Ultimate, we need new market value based 'country state accounting principles' that include a complete set of  "future obligations" and "natural resources" (oil, gas, water power, etc.) on the asset side.

One of the main issues will be how to value a virtual and information society including fast changing and new future developments on basis of outdated valuation methods, developed in last decades of the last century.

Of course THE big challenge with such an ultimate country balance sheet will be how to value "human resources" as an asset. Why?

Because flexibility, responsiveness, education and entrepreneurship will eventually make the big difference in adapting a country's economy to a sustainable future. I suggest we start by valuing actuaries ;-).

- Spreadsheet with data used in this blog (xls)
-  83rd BIS Annual Report 2012/2013
- Report Honorable States? (2013)

Jul 9, 2012

Humor: Actuarial Marriage Advice

It's an intriguing topic: Do you indeed live longer if you marry a younger woman?  Or is this kind of party talk total nonsense?

This time an 'actuarial marriage counseling blog' that gets serious  about this hilarious topic of age differences and mortality......

Research speaks...
While it had long been assumed that women with younger husbands also live longer, in a 2010 study Sven Drefahl from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Rostock, Germany) has shown that this is not the case.

Some interesting an remarkable conclusions from Drefal's study:
  • A woman's life expectancy is shorter the greater the age difference from her husband, irrespective of whether she is younger or older than him.
  • However, the younger his wife, the longer a man lives. 
  • Women marrying a partner seven to nine years younger, increase their mortality risk by 20% compared to couples where both partners are the same age. 
  • But the mortality risk of a husband who is seven to nine years older than his wife is reduced by 11%.

It's strongly doubtable if this mortality advantage of a man marrying a younger wife, is the reason why, according to Okcupid, a man - as he gets older - searches for relatively younger and younger women.
In general a man of age X searches a women with a lower limit age Y of :

Y = 0.5X + 7

Men, don't search a woman beneath this lower limit age border, unless you want to end up as sugar daddy........

What about women?
For women it's quite different:

In general women search for an older man. But as they grow older this effect shrinks.

Actuarial marriage advice is rubbish...
Don't follow statistics if you want to marry someone, follow your heart! ;-)

Related Links & Sources:
- Max Planck Institut: Marriage and life expectancy (2010)
 - OKCUPID: The Case For An Older Woman
- CBS News :Age gap Deathly (2010)
- Sugar daddy diagram ;-)

Nov 29, 2009

Actuarial Health Care Reform Puzzle

From a European perspective it's hard to understand why the US Health Care Reform creates such a fuzz.

Behind Health Care Reform
At first sight one might think American values were somehow at stake, as UCLA's Dr. Marc Nuwer, a leading expert on national health care reform, stated back in 2008:

  • "To heal our ailing health care system, we need to stop thinking like Americans."

  • "Americans prize individual choice and resist limiting care"

As one-sixth of Americans are uninsured and especially elderly people are in need of good (insured) health care, one would expect this group to support this new health reform. Think again, the majority of elderly people voted against a guarantee of health insurance for all Americans:

Not a surprise for actuaries of course, because we were already aware of the interesting age-distribution of the uninsured.

Recently, Tyler Cowen, a economics professor at George Mason University additionally stated : Further health care reform doesn’t now seem to promise much to old people, except spending cuts on them. Given their limited time horizons, old people don’t so much value systemwide improvements, which invariably take some while to pay off.

For those of you who are interested in the background and consequences of pay offs regarding limited time horizons, (generation) discount rates and 'Gamma Discounting', the article Caring about the Distant Future: Why It Matters and What It Means from professor Tyler Cowen is a joy to read.

Certainly a 'must read' for actuaries.

Future Health Care Reform
Anyhow, the House of Representatives passed the sweeping health care bill recently.

Puzzle is that this bill has nowhere to go in the Senate, as the stumbling block is that government will have to compete with the private insurers.

The solution to this problem is as simple as can be:

Implement the headlines of the Dutch Health Care Model

Key elements of the new (2006) Dutch Health Insurance Act are:
  • All adults are obliged to buy health insurance and can choose any insurer
  • Children (under 18 years) are insured for free
  • Low income groups receive financial compensation by tax reduction
  • All insurers must offer a (governm. def.) policy to anyone who applies
  • Basic benefit package is almost comprehensive
  • Insurers get compensation for taking on higher risk patients from the risk equalization fund
  • Insurers can offer complementary health insurance packages under free market conditions
  • Consumers have the right to change insurer at the end of every calendar year if not satisfied or if they change employer
  • Insurers have the role of prudent purchasers of health care
    (value for money)
  • Providers are encouraged by insurers to deliver high quality care at low costs

In a 2009 Irish (Dublin) Health Actuary Seminar called 'More for less', the Dutch health actuary Enne Osinga explains more of the consequences of this new (2006) Dutch Health Care Model in a presentation called: The Dutch Experience .

I trust the US succeeds in making this important turn around!

- Tyler Cowen: Caring about the Distant Future: Why It Matters..
- Economics
- Yahoo
- Health Coverage & Uninsured (2009, 2007)
- RIVM Article:Regulated competition behind the dykes?
- Enne Osinga: The Dutch Experience