The Fifty-Thousand Pound Longevity Bet

My better half and I went out for dinner on Friday with my good friend Mark Higgins (of the electric car bet) and his better half, Rebbecca. Mark and I have very different opinions about the far future. I am decidedly optimistic and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Mark is a pessimist he is certainly less optimistic than me when it comes to how life expectancy will increase over the next hundred years.

For those who are interested there is a great talk posted on TED.com about what was called in the talk “longevity escape velocity”. The basic principle was that not only is life expectancy increasing but the rate of change is increasing too and consequently immortality will eventually ensue. While some people argue that the main increase in life expectancy has come from fairly simple measures like stopping women dieing during child birth and providing satisfactory nourishment year round which have finished; I am not convinced.

Anyone who knows me will be aware that I am obsessed by pensions. It’s something that I talk about constantly particularly with anyone fortuitous enough to have joined one of the very generous schemes that large organizations (both public and private) have got themselves involved in. What always seems to have happened is that the government (or large company) has convinced itself that the GAD (Government Actuarial Department) have finally got it right this time and that the two year increase in life expectancy over the last decade is really the last one. (It never has been).

Consequently Mark and I have entered into the following bet payable by our respective estates. The bet is that I will pay Mark’s estate the higher of 50 000 Canadian Dollars or Pounds Sterling (or their successor currencies adjusted by the notional adjustment made on succession) if “neither Mark nor Rebbecca have survived to 110”.  Hopefully, I will be alive at the time so we can use the money from Mark to pay for us all to go on holiday but lets hope that I last until 2020 because if I don’t I won’t be able to create a trust in my will to settle the debt! Additionally I think we may have broken a law as Mark has bet on his own demise which I think is one of the few things in Britain which it is not legal to bet on.

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