Quantifying mortality risk in small defined-benefit pension schemes

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A risk of small defined-benefit pension schemes is that there are too few members to eliminate idiosyncratic mortality risk, that is, there are too few members to effectively pool mortality risk. This means that when there are few members in the scheme, there is an increased risk of the liability value deviating significantly from the expected liability value, as compared to a large scheme. We quantify this risk through examining the coefficient of variation of a scheme's liability value relative to its expected value. We examine how the coefficient of variation varies with the number of members and find that, even with a few hundred members in the scheme, idiosyncratic mortality risk may still be significant. Next we quantify the amount of the mortality risk concentrated in the executive section of the scheme, where the executives receive a benefit that is higher than the non-executive benefit. We use the Euler capital allocation principle to allocate the total standard deviation of the liability value between the executive and non-executive sections. The results suggest that the mortality risk of the scheme should be monitored and managed within the sections of a scheme and not only on a scheme-wide basis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-57
Number of pages17
JournalScandinavian Actuarial Journal
Issue number1
Early online date23 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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