Longevity risk and the Grim Reaper's toxic tail: The survivor fan charts

David Blake, Kevin Dowd, Andrew J. G. Cairns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


This paper uses survivor fan charts to illustrate the prospective density functions of future male survival rates. The fan charts are based on a version of the Cairns-Blake-Dowd model of male mortality that provides a good fit to recent mortality data for England and Wales. They indicate that although none of us can escape the Grim Reaper, survivorship uncertainty is greatest for males aged a little over 90, confirming that there exists a 'toxic tail' for those institutions, such as annuity and pension providers, which are obliged to make payments to them for as long as they live. We also find that taking account of uncertainty in the parameters of the underlying mortality model leads to major increases in estimates of the widths of the fan charts. (c) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1062-1066
Number of pages5
JournalInsurance: Mathematics and Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


  • Cairns-Blake-Dowd model
  • mortality
  • fan charts
  • longevity risk
  • survival rates
  • toxic tail


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