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Risk Management

SOA finds slight dip in mortality rates overall

Mortality rates decreased slightly in 2016, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Society of Actuaries of recent mortality data.

SOA officials looked at 2016 mortality data released in late 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plus mortality data from 1999 through 2015. The report breaks out data by age, gender and cause of death, and assesses how mortality varies by income level.

The data will be used by plan sponsors to calculate funding needs and lump-sum valuations.

Overall, the mortality rate from all causes of death in the U.S. decreased by 0.6% in 2016 from the previous year. That follows a 1.2% increase in 2015. Over the most recent five-year period, mortality rates in the U.S. declined by an average of 0.3%. Persons between 15 and 44 experienced increases in mortality, with the sharpest increase — 10.5% — showing for those ages 25 to 34.

The largest rate of improvement, 2.3%, over the previous year was for people ages 75 to 84.

SOA officials will release updated mortality tables for plan sponsors in October, said Dale Hall, managing director of research with the Society of Actuaries, in an interview. The CDC data and analysis "would be the starting point" for plan sponsors to update their own mortality tables later this year, he said.