Sicilian actuaries and the force of mortality


According to the old joke, while actuaries are able to tell you the number of people expected to die each year, Sicilian actuaries can tell you not only the number of people, but also their names and addresses. Last week I put up the shape of death curves in the ages after 65, according to Australian population studies. At roughly the same time, Mercer released a report indicating that it was the white collar workers who tended to live the longest. I’m guessing that not too many people were surprised by that statement of the bleeding obvious.  However, it did get me thinking about the potential reaction of the blue collar workers. They might wonder what all the fuss is over raising the Superannuation Guarantee rate. Given the white collar workers tend to occupy the right hand side of the shape of death, then it presumably is the blue collar workers that tend to occupy the left.  I mean, we can’t all live longer than average, can we?  If that is the case, then why force up the rate of saving for the blue collar workers when, to put it somewhat indelicately, they won’t need it?

I mentioned this to my cat at home. It did seem to me that she spent some time staring into the middle distance as I spoke. I took it that she was considering the merits of my argument, but it is sometimes hard to tell with cats – are they staring into the middle distance because they are contemplating the complexities and consequences of the force of mortality varying among different groups within the population or is it that they are trying to decide whether to curl up in the corner for another nap?

Then it was pointed out to me that Australia doesn’t have many blue collar workers left. Mostly the jobs that they used to fulfill have been offshored, outsourced, downsized, rightsized or simply overtaken by the tastes and preferences of the consumers who get up in the morning and apparently prefer to pay less, not more, for stuff when given the choice. So if there are not many blue collar workers left, who will fill in the left hand side of the shape of death? If anyone knows the contact details of any Sicilian actuaries, please let me know.

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