Life expectancy is a fundamental measure of human progress and there is a large amount of literature on the variation of life expectancy between and within countries. A great deal of work continues on one aspect of this variation: avoidable health inequalities, inequities or disparities. In particular, epidemiologists and others investigate the association of health inequalities with socio-economic position. The World Health Organisations Commission on Social Determinants of Health is a major example of this.
What can actuarial theory add to this large body of work? The Focus article in this issue of Longevity Bulletin sets some basic actuarial relationships between average lifespan and
the variation of lifespan within a population in the context of some emerging theories from recent studies in demography. There may not be a unifying theory of variation in longevity yet, although we look back to 1825 for still-relevant insights. However, there are some perhaps surprising trends that give pause for thought about whether increasing average lifespans can be accompanied by reducing variation. Longevity Bulletin aims to provide a regular guide to the prospects for long lives. It presents and explains actuarial perspectives on population longevity and looks outside the profession for statistics, research and the latest thinking on related subjects. It is not intended as a comprehensive guide to everything new in longevity research but rather as a helpful companion for those interested in a most intriguing subject. We hope the Bulletin is read by actuaries, users of actuarial
services and anyone with a technical, professional or personal interest in longevity.