Identifying structural breaks in stochastic mortality models

Colin O'Hare, Youwei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In recent years, the issue of life expectancy has become of utmost importance to pension providers, insurance companies, and government bodies in the developed world. Significant and consistent improvements in mortality rates and hence life expectancy have led to unprecedented increases in the cost of providing for older ages. This has resulted in an explosion of stochastic mortality models forecasting trends in mortality data to anticipate future life expectancy and hence quantify the costs of providing for future aging populations. Many stochastic models of mortality rates identify linear trends in mortality rates by time, age, and cohort and forecast these trends into the future by using standard statistical methods. These approaches rely on the assumption that structural breaks in the trend do not exist or do not have a significant impact on the mortality forecasts. Recent literature has started to question this assumption. In this paper, we carry out a comprehensive investigation of the presence or of structural breaks in a selection of leading mortality models. We find that structural breaks are present in the majority of cases. In particular, we find that allowing for structural break, where present, improves the forecast result significantly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 14
Number of pages14
JournalASCE-ASME Journal of Risk and Uncertainty in Engineering Systems, Part B: Mechanical Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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