Want to live longer? Get a pension!

live longer

Thanks to Jim Hennington for this

I’m writing on a sad morning when a great man died at 43 from cancer. Death can kill any of us in random ways and Chadwick Boseman died nobly cut short in the most unfair of ways

It is easy to let your head go down when someone dies this way. It is easy  to think that you have no control of your own mortality, but statistically and practically this is not true.

Chadwick Boseman’s death was untimely and also unusual, most people live long and healthier lives than at any time in the history of mortality records

life 2.jpg

However you look at the data, we are living longer and it’s for the reasons in the green boxes at the top of the blog.

Below is another chart confirming that life expectancy for women around the world  is increasing in a straight line over a very long period.

life 3

Those little red lines flattening the improvements were projections that life expectancy would not improve – which turned out to be wrong.

We are in control of our own life expectancy

As I write, I am listening to an episode of  “More or less” that is looking at obesity and our capacity to keep our weight down and the fat off our tummies.

Fake fat news. Jamie Oliver’s stat that over a quarter of children’s fruit and veg came from pizza eating, is proved to be fake news. Similarly, Matt Hancock’s stat that if everyone who is overweight lost 5 lbs then we would save the NHS on average 30p  per patient per year. So stats

Fatually correct. Thankfully we got one set of statistics from Stuart McDonald that did make sense. His stats tell us that if the UK hadn’t been quite as obese as we are , we would have had about 600 less deaths than our European neighbors this year and about 1300 less deaths if we had all been Italian (who are notoriously thin)

Stuart put this in context, Britain’s excess death are down to a lot more than our being a nation of fatties


Being fat matters but being fat does not mean you will die of COVID-19

This matters to me because I am about 15 kg above my right weight and that is because I do not take enough exercise, because I drink too much in the evening and because I eat a lot of hula hoops.

If I am going to be incentivised to spend more time being active and turning down the second glass of wine in the evening, I am going to need facts I can trust. I trust Stuart and I don’t trust Jamie Oliver or Matt Hancock.

I know that being fat is unlikely to kill me today but it can lower my tomorrows. Presumably why Boris Johnson announced this week he has hired a personal trainer. Boris may be thinking about all his tomorrows

Which is where pensions come in

Although I have saved hard into DC pensions all my life, I am lucky enough to have a DB pension from  my time working at Zurich. I also have the prospect of a state pension in 8 years time. Boris too has a nice civil service pension coming his way.

These pensions become more valuable to me for every year I live , indeed they pay off by the day.

So – being a value for money kind of guy, I see my pensions as my financial incentive for drinking less and going to the gym. I  want to be a happy, financially solvent pensioner for a  very long time – for as long as I live. And I want Stella , who is younger than me (and as a woman has a longer life expectancy than me) to benefit from my pensions when I die. So I bought her a gym membership last month when the gyms reopened!

And this is something that is very peculiar to pensions (rather than pension pots). A pension is an incentive to live longer. A DC pot is a worry.

I am not suggesting that people with DC pensions consciously shorten their lives to ensure their pot doesn’t run out before they do.

But I do think that the security that comes from knowing you have a wage for life coming my  way, is a weight off my mind.

And I wonder, in 30 years time when I will close to 90, if we’ll be adding to that list , pf factors known to increase life expectancy – a proper pension!

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in actuaries, Blogging, pensions. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Want to live longer? Get a pension!

  1. John Mather says:

    Just as important is the quality of life. The objective is better expressed in the title of the book https://books.google.pt/books/about/Live_Long_Die_Short.html?id=VVyjAgAAQBAJ&source=kp_book_description&redir_esc=y

    The methodology to put this into action https://valterlongo.com/daily-longevity-diet-for-adults/

    What matters is your physical age as opposed to your chronological age. With careful attention to the regime and the climate you enjoy you should be able to have a 13-15 year difference in these age measures. Take up strenuous exercise ove short periods, The gym is boring try tennis.

  2. Gerry Francis says:

    I like this reply. Good insight.

Leave a Reply