Presentation by Assia Billig, Actuary, at the 30th International Congress of Actuaries

Document Properties

  • Type of Publication: Presentation
  • Subject: Why actuaries are interested in demographic issues and why others should listen to them
  • Date: 2014-03-31
  • Speaker: Assia Billig

Population issues working group (PIWG)

The purpose of PIWG is to identify population issues of particular interest to actuaries and in respect of which the actuarial profession, at an international or national level, could make a useful contribution in the public interest.

  • Terms of references include:
    • To raise awareness of population issues in the wider actuarial community worldwide.
    • To promote the role of actuaries in demographic work.

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PIWG Current Work Plan

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World population is changing dramatically

  • By 2020, there will be 1 billion aged 60 or older; by 2050, more than 2 billion.
  • In 2010, over a quarter of the world population was younger than age 15; by 2050 it will be around one fifth.
  • In 1950, less than 30 per cent of the world population lived in cities; today it is more than 50 per cent.
  • In 2013, international migrants represented over 3 per cent of the global population.

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Evolving population needs appropriate products

Demographic developments affect:

  • Social security programs
  • Insurance products (individual, property
  • Health insurance programs
  • Pension plan designs
  • Disability programs
  • Savings products
  • Long term care provision

...and result in actuaries working in non-traditional areas

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Professional duty of an actuary is to examine available information

  • Actuaries need to develop assumptions and models
  • Actuaries follow
    • National mandatory standards
    • Non-mandatory guidelines e.g. ISAP 2
    • These may suggest ways of developing demographic and other assumptions
  • Actuaries may be responsible for assumptions under legislation

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Social security actuaries should be especially aware of demographic developments

  • Social security programs cover wide segments of a country’s population
  • ISSA international survey - social security actuaries are responsible for assumptions in 70% of cases
  • Finer characteristics of projected population may need to be recognized
    • How healthy people are at different ages and at different socio-economic levels
    • How immigration/emigration impact the fertility and longevity profiles of countries
    • How family structure is evolving
    • How demographic developments impact labour market

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Health and morbidity trends impact the financing and sustainability of health care

  • Actuaries are involved in assessing financial status of private and public health care systems
    • Office of the Actuary for Medicare and Medicaid (USA)
  • Actuaries are positioning themselves as think tank resources for policymakers
    • ISSA TC ACT project on sustainability of health care financing
      • Discussions involving actuaries, economist, social security officials and policymakers
    • SOA and CIA sponsored report “Sustainability of the Canadian Health Care System and Impact of the 2014 Revision to the Canada Health Transfer”

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Aging increases the demand for disability benefits

  • Age groups affected by disability and causes of disability vary by regions of the world
  • Analysis of disabilities by medical cause, age, gender is necessary
    • Actuaries have access to detailed databases as well as strong analytical abilities
  • In Canada, analysis of recovery from disability by cause and age allowed government to refine rehabilitation programs.

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The workforce in modern world is becoming increasingly mobile

  • Permanent migration is important driver of population change
    • Volatile component which is often politically driven
    • Difficult to project
  • In developing assumptions social security actuaries
    • use their judgement on how to balance recent experience and long-term trends
    • analyse age, gender, and family composition of immigrants, and their ability to find work

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Social protection of temporary migrants

  • Social security actuaries: financing migrants protection
    • Does allowing migrants to pay social security contribution and eventually have access to benefits result to the net gain or loss for the system?
    • If migrants do not have access to host countries social security, what is the cost for country of origin when they return?
  • Pension actuaries: retirement income plans for expatriates
    • International pension plans, extension of participation to local workforce
  • Product development for those not covered by social security and pension arrangements

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Fertility and family formation

  • Fertility rate around the world varies from 1.2 to 7.6 children per woman
  • Changing face of families:
    • More single parent families
    • Changing role of women in society
    • Urbanization
    • High number of orphaned children due to HIV/AIDS
  • New types of family programs
    • Conditional cash transfers (Brazilian Bolsa Família)
    • Children pensions (South African Child Support Grant)

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Fertility and family programs

  • Social security population projections need analyses of fertility by
    • Age of mother
    • Socio-economical characteristics
    • Geographical region
    • Residency
  • Family programs
    • Eligibility for benefits
    • Québec Parental Insurance Plan (Canada): distribution of families by type: singles vs. couples and one earner vs. two earners

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Aging of the population is caused by low fertility and/or increasing longevity

  • How society spending should be apportioned between younger and older populations?
    • how intergenerational equity should be addressed?
  • Will aging create labour shortages?
    • what impact it could have on social programs and how social security programs could help to alleviate it?
  • How health systems and old-age retirement systems should adapt to changing realities?
  • Potential for new products development, e.g. long-term care

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Intergenerational equity: a condition for sustainable social security?

  • How to define intergenerational equity and how to measure it?
  • Recent TC ACT ISSA project proposed several actuarial measures of intergenerational equity for retirement income systems
    • Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay
  • Project summarized existing and potential policy responses stemming from these actuarial measures

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Can social security systems automatically adjust to changing economy and demography?

  • Several countries have incorporated automatic balancing mechanism (ABMs) in the designs of their systems
  • ABMs linked to longevity (e.g. UK, Sweden), or to other demographic measures (e.g. Germany, Japan)
  • Actuarial role in developing such mechanism and assessing efficiency of existing ones.

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Increase in retirement age

  • Reasons behind increase in retirement age
    • increasing longevity
    • shrinking tax and contribution bases due to falling fertility
    • desire to keep people longer in work force in order to address labour shortage.
  • CIA report on “Issues Related to Increasing the “Retirement Age”
    • Result of collaboration of actuaries from different areas of expertise
  • Increase in retirement age can affect other programs (e.g. disability and unemployment)

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Reasons why other organizations should talk to actuaries...

  • Expertise: actuaries know how to combine statistical, mathematical, demographic, economic and financial information into models, analysis, and projections.
  • Use of actuaries work: the results of actuarial work are often used to define major national policies by legislators.
  • Risk management: Actuaries are expert in risk management and can provide useful input on ways of assessing and presenting information on risks related to demographic, economic and other areas
  • Meeting needs: develop suitable products for meeting needs and providing risk management

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...and few more reasons

  • Ability to interpolate trends: In countries and regions when data are scarce actuaries can help to develop credible approximations
  • Recognition of uncertainty of results: Policymakers are often interested in a single figure – actuaries need to engage policymakers in considering a range of possible outcomes.
  • Model already built: actuaries already use demographic models. Other organizations can rely on these models.
  • Quality assurance: actuaries can review and validate models developed by others
  • Professionalism: actuaries operate under various standards to ensure work is objective and transparent

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Examples of engagement outside the profession

  • Workshop to build up sub regional networks in Africa
    • to provide information on what actuaries can offer and their potential role,
    • to share experience and
    • to organize knowledge management and documentation.
  • Social Security Subcommittee of the Actuarial Association of Europe
    • Position paper “Sustainability of pension systems- demographic challenges”
    • Discussions regarding assumptions for EU Ageing Report

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  • Actuaries often brand themselves as risk management professionals
  • Demographic risks in the modern world cannot be ignored

The actuarial profession possesses a profound understanding of demographic risks and actuaries should take steps to engage with those outside the profession to recognize this expertise and to use it.

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Please join PIWG!

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Thank you

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