Thursday, February 23, 2017

Women's life expectancy on track to hit 90 in some nations

22 Feb 2017


PARIS: By 2030 life expectancy for South Korean women could top nine decades, an average lifespan long thought to be out of reach, researchers said Wednesday (Feb 22).

South Korea is not only the first country in the world where women may live past 90 on average, it is also the one on track to log the biggest jump in longevity, they reported in The Lancet medical journal.

Other developed countries are not far behind: the longevity of French and Japanese women are more likely than not to stretch past 88 years.

"As recently as the turn of the century, many researchers believed that life expectancy would never surpass 90 years," said lead author Majid Ezzati, a professor at Imperial College London.

Nations boasting the greatest longevity among men by 2030 -- 84 years in each case -- will likely be South Korea, Australia and Switzerland, according to the study.

Among 35 well-off countries examined, life expectancy was predicted to increase across the board over the next 15 years.

While a marker of progress, ageing populations also pose huge challenges to health care systems and social services, and may require pushing back the age at which people stop working, the study warned.

"It is important that policies to support the growing older population are in place," Ezzati said.

"The social implications of this change will also likely require changes to pensions and retirement."

The South Korean success story is built on broad gains in economic status, along with improved child nutrition and broad access to health care and modern medical technology, the study noted.

The East Asian nation of 50 million, along with its neighbour Japan, has also maintained significantly lower rates of obesity, and of smoking among women.


In the United States, by contrast, life expectancy at birth is currently below most other high-income countries, and is poised to fall even further behind.

"The poor recent and projected US performance is at least partly due to high and inequitable mortality from chronic diseases and violence, and insufficient healthcare," the study concluded.

Among the countries canvassed, the United States has the highest child and maternal mortality, homicide rate, and body-mass index, a standard measure of obesity.

Of the 35 wealthy OECD nations, it is the only one not to have universal health care, which the researchers identified as the "cornerstone" of other countries' strategies for reducing adult mortality.

To improve on earlier estimates of future lifespan, the study leveraged statistical techniques used in weather forecasting and developed 21 independent models, rather than just one.

In 2015, women in Japan, Singapore and Spain topped the longevity list at 87, 86 and 85.5 years respectively. South Korea placed fourth.

The men who could look forward to the longest lives in 2015 were in Switzerland, Iceland and Australia -- all within a few decimal points of an 81 year lifespan.

From 2010 to 2030, South Korean women are set to add 6.6 years to an average lifespan, followed by Slovenia (4.7) and Portugal (4.4).

Among men, the big gains will be Hungary (7.5 years), South Korea (7.0) and Slovenia (6.4).

The United States will see only a moderate gain over the same two decades, from 81.2 to 83.3 years for women, and 76.5 to 79.5 years for men.

In 2015, the five countries with the lowest life expectancy -- ranging from 50 to less than 55 years for men and women -- were all in sub-Saharan Africa.

Outside periods of war or famine, life expectancy in wealthy nations has risen almost continuously since the 19th century, from roughly 50 to 80 years.

- AFP/rw

[Singaporeans are living longer.

An SG man's life expectancy is 80 years. For a male born in 2013. An SG woman's life expectancy would be 84.5 years. The life expectancy in 1965 when SG became independent, was 67 years (average of the two genders). 

For those born in 1980, the male and female life expectancies were about 70, and 75 years. 

What this means is that we need to plan for a longer retirement, and we need to finance that longer retirement. 

How? The specifics is up to you. Save. Invest and grow your savings. Get an annuity that will pay for as long as you live.

For the more vocal Singaporeans who do not trust CPF, go ahead and find your own way.

For most Singaporeans (like myself) who have no interest (or competence) in investing, I'm just going with savings, and CPF Life. 

In case you don't know about CPF Life, this is how it works.

First, at 55, the money in your Special Account will go into your Retirement Account.

The amount in the Retirement account will be used to buy an annuity (CPF Life). There are 3 plans - Basic provides about $650 a month. Full provides about $1300. And Enhanced provides about $1,950.

The payouts begin at age 65. But you can defer the payouts for higher monthly payouts.

For example, if at age 65 you are still re-employed and is drawing a salary, you may choose to defer your payouts to say 67, when your re-cmployment contract ends.

The payouts is for life - for as long as you live. 

So how would a couple plan for their retirement?

Let's take a couple where the husband is about 5 years older than the wife. When he is 55, the wife is only 50. The man expects that he would live to 75 or 80. His father died at 75. His grandfather, at age 60. Extreme longevity is not in his genes. His wife's grandmother died at 90. Her mother is still alive at 78. She is likely to have a long life. Easily 85 or beyond.

So at age 55, he opts for the Full CPF Life. He would have like to get the Enhanced, because he believes the bigger the payout, the better. But he doesn't expect to get his money's worth. And basic is just too little. 

And he transfers his Ordinary account balance to his wife's CPF, so that she can get the Enhanced CPF Life at 55 (she's only 50 then). 

At 62 he retires and let's say he is unable to get re-employment. But he gets a bit of a lump sum (EAP) payment (up to $10,000), and he has some savings. And his wife is still working. 

So for 3 years, he has no income (except for savings, and small lump sum from the EAP) and his wife's salary to support both of them. Hopefully, he has some savings. 

At 65, the CPF payout starts, and he gets $1300 a month. His wife is 60 years old and still working.

When his wife reached 55, she had opted for the Enhanced CPF Life. She needed $249,000 from her SA/RA and she met it with the help of the husband's transfer of his CPF when he turned 55. 

When she turned 62, she also retired and again, let's assume that she is unable to get re-employed. So now they depend on the husband's CPF Life of $1300, plus savings, plus any EAP she got (small sum). 

But three years later, when she is 65, her CPF life kicks in and she draws almost $2000. Together with his $1300, they have $3,300 in monthly payouts. Which should be quite comfortable.

When he dies (assuming he dies first), say at age 80, his CPF Life payout will cease. 

His widow will continue to have her CPF Life payout of $2000. She would be 75. She may live to 90.  That $2000 a month would be useful. But it would be the only income she will have for the next 15 years. With no increase to account for inflation.

What would such a couple plan look like? See this blogpiece.

This is not foolproof of course. 

The wife could die earlier than expected. The man could live very long. 

And what if the couple are the same age. And both turn 62 at the same time, and for the next 3 years until CPF Life payouts start, will have no income?

This is not a suggestion as to how you should plan for your retirement. But how would you start to plan for your retirement?]

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