U.S. Mortality Monitoring Report

May 2020

Although the exact effects of COVID-19 on insured population mortality cannot yet be predicted, Munich Re is continuing to monitor the size and duration of its impact on the insured population. The analysis in this paper is based on research conducted prior to the global pandemic and focuses instead on long term mortality trends.

On January 30, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released mortality data for year 2018. An accompanying report hit news outlets in a big way: after three years of worsening mortality, U.S. life expectancy was again on the rise. 1 While positive, this news misses the mark for life insurers. What is driving this change? What trends can we expect to see in the future? How much is this impacting the insured population?

After three years of worsening mortality, U.S. life expectancy was again on the rise. While positive, this news misses the mark for life insurers.

By skipping the policy report and going straight to the underlying data, we can help uncover the real implications for life insurers. First, the insured population is by and large socioeconomically advantaged. The best surrogate for socioeconomic status available in the U.S. national data is education level.

The college educated group (those with four-year degree or more) can be seen as a proxy for the individual life insured population. The college educated show a significantly lower mortality and a better trend than any other educational group. In fact, those with a college degree never saw a real turn around in life expectancy, only a slowdown of overall mortality improvement.

Download the full whitepaper

College Educated Mortality Trends by Cause of Death

Similarly, we can look at how these trends for the college educated population are driven by different causes of death. Physiological (physical health based) causes are the main driver of mortality. Within this category, mortality rates have maintained an overall improving trend. By contrast, external (behavior/environment based) causes such as suicides, accidents, and overdoses have seen a relatively minor increase. Data for year 2018, with a 1.5% improvement over 2017, gives hope that this trend may see improvement going forward.

U.S. Age-Adjusted Mortality Rate per 100,000: Ages 25-84
The leading physiological causes of death for the college educated are cancers and heart/circulatory conditions. Cancer mortality has seen accelerating improvement for many years. In addition to medical advances, this is also driven by decreased rates of lung cancer as the prevalence of smoking decreases in the U.S. Since life insurance policies are typically smoker-distinct, a portion of this improvement will not be visible in the insured population.
U.S. College Educated Age-Adjusted Mortality per 100,000 by Cause of Death: Ages 25-84

Heart and circulatory conditions, on the other hand, have seen a significant slowdown in mortality improvement. This is led by heart disease mortality apparently stagnating since 2010. A likely cause is the increased rate of obesity in the U.S. In insured populations, obesity impacts may be alleviated through underwriting.

Accidents are the leading driver of external cause mortality. While not all drug related deaths are properly classified in the U.S. population data, by removing overdoses we see that non-drug accident mortality has not seen real increases for the college educated. 

U.S. College Educated Age-Adjusted Mortality per 100,000: Major Physiological Causes, Ages 25-84
© Munich Re
While almost negligible when compared to other educational groups, college educated mortality has seen some negative impacts from the opioid epidemic. Fortunately, drug related mortality saw a sharp change in trend in 2018, with a statistically significant drop in college educated deaths. In our monitoring, we have seen effectively no impact on the insured population from the opioid crisis. If the trends seen in 2018 continue, we expect this to remain the case for life insurers.
U.S. College Educated Age-Adjusted Mortality per 100,000: Selected External Causes, Ages 25-84
© Munich Re

Conclusions for Life Insurers

While mortality trends for the general population are beginning to see signs of recovery from recent slumps, the life insured population has continued to see ongoing mortality improvement. The college educated population, a surrogate for the insured population, has seen at most a slowdown in mortality trends. At this time, we expect these trends to continue after accounting for the impacts of COVID-19.

 

Notes on the Dataset

All data from this article comes from Munich Re analysis of publicly available data. Mortality and population data were taken from ‘Mortality Multiple Cause-of-Death Public Use Record’ and ‘Bridged-Race Resident Population Estimates’, respectively, both available from the National Center for Health Statistics. Educational exposures were calculated from ‘Educational Attainment in the United States’ published by the U.S. Census Bureau.

All mortality rates have been age-standardized to the 2018 U.S. population. Educational data is of varying quality before 2005. Some states have been excluded in years when they had incomplete educational status reporting on death certificates. Care should be used when relying on educational data from 2004 and before. 

References
1Health E-Stats, January 2020, NCHS. Retrieved via https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/life-expectancy/life-expectancy-2018.htm

Related Content

Rechtlicher Hinweis

Die gewünschte Information bezieht sich auf Finanzinstrumente, Wertpapiere oder diesbezügliche Angebote, die nicht in oder in die Vereinigten Staaten, Kanada, Australien oder Japan und von US-Bürgern (gemäß der Definition in der Regulation S des US Securities Act 1933) angeboten werden, noch in und von diesen Ländern bzw. US-Bürgern akzeptiert werden dürfen. Folglich wurden diese Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere sowie diesbezügliche Angebote (i) weder nach dem Amerikanischen Wertpapiergesetz noch nach einem Gesetz eines US-Bundesstaates registriert; (ii) diese Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere dürfen nicht direkt oder indirekt in oder in die Vereinigten Staaten angeboten, verkauft, wiederverkauft, verpfändet oder geliefert werden, es sei denn, es liegt eine Befreiung von den Registrierungsanforderungen des Amerikanischen Wertpapiergesetzes vor; und (iii) solche Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere können dem US-Steuerrecht unterliegen. Keine der hierin enthaltenen Unterlagen begründet ein Verkaufsangebot oder eine Aufforderung eines Angebots zum Kauf von Finanzinstrumenten oder Wertpapieren in den Vereinigten Staaten, Kanada, Australien oder Japan bzw. an US-Bürger oder in eine andere Rechtsordnung, in der ein solches Angebot oder dessen Einholung rechtswidrig ist. Personen, die ein Angebot annehmen möchten, dürfen weder die Post der Vereinigten Staaten, Kanadas, Australiens oder Japans oder irgendein Mittel oder Instrument (wie z.B. Faxübertragung, Telex oder Telefon) des Zwischenstaatlichen- oder Außenhandels, noch irgendwelche Einrichtungen einer inländischen Wertpapierbörse der Vereinigten Staaten, Kanadas, Australiens oder Japans für irgendeinen Zweck benutzen, der direkt oder indirekt mit der Annahme eines Angebots zusammenhängt. Annahmen oder andere sich auf ein Angebot beziehende Unterlagen dürfen nicht postalisch in den Vereinigten Staaten, Kanada, Australien oder Japan frankiert oder abgestempelt werden. Alle Personen, die ein Angebot annehmen möchten, müssen eine Adresse außerhalb der USA, Kanada, Japan und Australien für den Erhalt jeglicher Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere angeben. Darüber hinaus wird von jedem Inhaber der relevanten Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapieren angenommen, dem Emittenten dargelegt zu haben, dass (i) er kein US-Bürger ist und (ii) dass er diese Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere nicht auf Rechnung eines US-Bürgers erwirbt.

Weder die in diesen Seiten enthaltenen Informationen, noch irgendeine Meinungsäußerung begründen ein Angebot oder eine Aufforderung, Finanzinstrumente oder Wertpapiere in irgendeiner Rechtsordnung zu erwerben. Jegliches Angebot oder jegliche Aufforderung wird nur in Unterlagen gemacht, die dafür rechtzeitig veröffentlicht werden; und jegliches Angebot und jegliche Aufforderung ist beschränkt auf die in diesen Unterlagen bereitgestellten Informationen.

Please scroll and read to the very bottom, before you can confirm.
We use cookies on our websites to improve your experience as an internet user, and to optimise our online services. They comprise cookies that are required for technical purposes, and without which the website functionality could not be guaranteed. We also employ cookies to carry out statistical evaluations of the reach of our websites. These evaluations are anonymised. You can find further information on the cookies we use, and ways to object to the use of cookies for statistical evaluations, in our cookie guidelines.