Choosing Population Projections for Public Policy

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On Wednesday October 29th, the ILC-UK is holding a major conference with the Actuarial Profession, called ‘Choosing Population Projections for Public Policy’. The conference has been made possible by the support of Swiss Re.

Delegates to the conference are invited to respond to this blog posting to contribute some of their thoughts on the topic of the conference.

One thought on “Choosing Population Projections for Public Policy

  1. Thank you very much for a very enjoyable day on Wednesday. I enjoyed the content and I was also able to gain a very good insight into the thinking that goes behind the preparation of some extremely important figures.

    I am not an actuary, I am one of those much maligned accountants and I specialise in matters related to those over 50 via a small consultancy firm “In my prime”, ( We rely very much on all kinds of figures produced by ONS and their equivalent bodies in other countries.

    I believe that what we, and government, industry, insurance companies and pension funds are looking for is a set of figures that we can all congregate around. Not accurate figures, for we know those don’t exist, but a reasonable start point (with ranges, sensitivity analysis, probabilities etc etc) to prevent figures being obviously manipulated or, worse, ignored.

    It does seem extremely cumbersome and fraught with danger to try to set up a separate body to oversee this aspect of matters – and, I would suggest, overkill.

    There were two very pertinent comments that I picked up from the discussions.

    Firstly, any mechanism which uses such figures should have a system sufficiently well designed and robust that it can revisit and fine tune its decisions in the light of later revised and more up to date information, ideally at any time it chooses. And if it hasn’t, that’s their problem.

    Secondly, the ONS seemed very much to enjoy the technical parts of its work but then shied away from coming down on a favoured/most probable set of assumptions (even with caveats), necessary to turn projections into forecasts or estimates, thereby leaving it for the world outside to argue the toss. Speaking as an accountant, that is what we do all the time and the world does not cave in around us.

    In my opinion it is this latter small leap that is required to obviate the need for any outside body, to keep the work in house and respected, and to avoid any accusations of political interference.

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