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Average life expectancy has risen across the globe in recent decades, but the pace at which life expectancy will change remains uncertain. For example, sudden higher death rates due to a pandemic can have an impact on how life expectancy trends will develop. This uncertainty creates challenges, such as the affordability of pension schemes or the required capacity of the healthcare system. It is of vital importance to society to gain a better understanding of the financial and social impact of changing life expectancy. That is why the Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Nationale-Nederlanden are opening a new independent research centre: the Research Centre for Longevity Risk.

UvA researchers at the Research Centre for Longevity Risk will study developments in survival rates and life expectancy and how these developments are affected by a variety of factors. This includes studying demographic trends and medical developments, as well as the impact of local socioeconomic conditions and the quality of our living environment. The research findings pertaining to expected developments in life expectancy will also provide a foundation for studying the financial and social impact of these trends.  

Variation in life expectancy 

‘The social and financial consequences of developments in life expectancy are enormous’, says Michel Vellekoop, professor of Life Insurance and research director of the research group at the Amsterdam School of Economics where the new Centre will be based.

Michel Vellekoop, professor of Life Insurance 
Copyright: UvA
There is a significant variation in life expectancy among different population groups, and socioeconomic differences are one of the causes. Michel Vellekoop, professor of Life Insurance 

We still don’t have a sufficient understanding of how life expectancy will develop and how all relevant factors relate to one another. We also don’t have adequate knowledge of the financial and economic consequences of the developments in life expectancy. We want to change this using the research we will conduct at the Research Centre for Longevity Risk', concludes Vellekoop.

Greater awareness of impact needed 

Leon van Riet, CEO Netherlands Life & Pensions at Nationale-Nederlanden: ‘As an international life insurance and pension provider, we have a lot of knowledge about longevity and extensive experience in this subject area. We believe that the financial sector has an important role to play in society and we aim to create sustainable long-term value for all stakeholders, such as our customers, investors and the communities in which we operate. Our funding of the Research Centre for Longevity Risk is in line with NN's ambition to support various social initiatives in the field of financial well-being and knowledge development. The research conducted at the centre will contribute to the management of longevity risk, and will be vital for governments, policymakers and other stakeholders in the financial sector. It will also help raise awareness about accruing a pension. This is in line with our goal of helping people care for what matters most to them.’