London: Longevity is accelerating and there are more 100 year olds than ever before, according to a new report by the Cass Business School.
They say that men born in 1985 can expect to live to an average age of 91, according to a new forecast of life expectancy which concludes that all existing projections are too low.
The Governments key forecast for longevity, which is also used in the pensions and life insurance industry, has seriously miscalculated how long men will live in the future, they also say.
Life expectancy is currently 76.6 years for men and 81 for women. The new research suggests that life expectancy for men born in 1985, who turn 65 in 2050, could be as high as 97 under the most optimistic scenario, although 91 is its central forecast. That is six years higher than the Office for National Statistics projection. The new Cass model has been applied only to men so far, but the next phase of the research will cover women.
The new calculation has serious implications for the Government and the pensions industry, who face having to pay an extra £160,368 per person in state benefits and occupational pensions, Cass calculates.
David Blake, director of the Pensions Institute at Cass Business School, said: Our calculations demonstrate that longevity is accelerating far beyond what is currently predicted, and there is considerable uncertainty surrounding future life expectancy. This will present a huge challenge for long-term healthcare providers and intensifies the problems faced by both government and the pensions industry. They need to update the projections they use before the pensions deficits reach catastrophic proportions.
Professor Blake said that the Office for National Statistics had a history of underestimating new trends: It completely underestimated the scale of the postwar baby boom, which had serious implications for the provision of schools and hospitals, and it has continually underestimated longevity of elderly people.
The Government has voiced concerns about the ageing population and has taken some steps to make provision for more older people. The retirement age is rising from 65 to 68 by 2044. Those actions were promoted by the ONS forecast that the proportion of over65s will go from 15 per cent now to 25 per cent by 2050. However, less provision for the older population has been made in healthcare.
The new centurions
– There are about 9,000 men and women over the age of 100, but the numbers are rising by 7 per cent a year
– By 2050, more than 150,000 people will be centenarians
– The costs of treating dementia and caring for sufferers have been calculated at £17 billion (and rising) per year