On Forecasting Mortality

Official forecasts of mortality made by the U.S. Office of the Actuary throughout this century have consistently underestimated observed mortality declines. This is due, in part, to their reliance on the static extrapolation of past trends, an atheoretical statistical method that pays scant attention to the behavioral, medical, and social factors contributing to mortality change. A “multiple cause-delay model” more realistically portrays the effects on mortality of the presence of more favorable risk factors at the population level. Such revised assumptions produce large increases in forecasts of the size of the elderly population, and have a dramatic impact on related estimates of population morbidity, disability, and health care costs.

Author(s): S. Jay Olshansky

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Volume 66, Issue 3 (pages 482–530)
Published in 1988