Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

A General Framework for Analysing the Mortality Experience of a Large Portfolio of Lives: With an Application to the UK Universities Superannuation Scheme

Cairns, Andrew J.G.; Blake, David; Dowd, Kevin; Coughlan, Guy D.; Jones, Owen; Rowney, Jeffrey

A General Framework for Analysing the Mortality Experience of a Large Portfolio of Lives: With an Application to the UK Universities Superannuation Scheme Thumbnail


Andrew J.G. Cairns

David Blake

Guy D. Coughlan

Owen Jones

Jeffrey Rowney


We propose a general framework that can be used to analyse the mortality experience of a large portfolio of lives. The objective of the framework is to provide a rm evidence base to support the setting of future mortality assumptions for the portfolio as a whole or subgroup-by-subgroup. The framework is developed in tandem with an analysis of the mortality of pensioners in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the largest funded pension scheme in the UK and one with a highly educated and very homogeneous membership. The USS experience was compared with English mortality subdivided into deprivation deciles using the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). USS was found to have signicantly lower mortality rates than even IMD-10 (the least deprived of the English deciles), but with similar mortality improvement rates to that decile over the period 2005-2016. Higher pensions were found to predict lower mortality, but only weakly so, and only for persons who retired on the rst day of a month (mostly from active service). We found that other potential covariates derived from an individual's post/zip code (geographical region and the IMD associated with their local area) typically had no explanatory power. This lack of dependence is an important conclusion of the USS-specic analysis and contrasts with others that consider the mortality of more heterogeneous scheme memberships. Although the key ndings are likely to be particular to USS, we argue that our analytical framework will be useful for other large pension schemes and life annuity providers.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 9, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 29, 2022
Publication Date 2022-06
Deposit Date Mar 15, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 29, 2022
Journal European Actuarial Journal
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 1
Pages 381-415
Public URL


Published Journal Article (2.5 Mb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

You might also like

Downloadable Citations