2011 Census

Two things happened this weekend. Firstly we lost an hour of our life; they took it from us in the middle of the night so we wouldn’t notice. If we are good we will get it back in September. If it were money that was borrowed for 6 months we should earn some interest, so do we get back our hour and a few extra minutes of life? And if we did how would you measure that extra life? That brings me to the second thing that happened this weekend, the 2011 census. I’m sure you have enjoyed answering all the questions, or are you still dreading the thought that you haven’t done it yet. The census has been going for 200 years and helps people plan. For instance from the 2001 data it was calculated that the average age expectancy for a newborn was 75.73 years for males and 80.44 years for females. Age expectancy has undoubtedly risen in the last decade.

On Friday I followed a 1990 “G reg” Austin Maestro Clubman down Chorley New Road. It was travelling at 20mph in a 40mph limit! When I had passed it I could see a very elderly couple happily making their way to Bolton. I had a thought; the owner probably bought this car when he retired at age 65 with his pension tax-free cash, which would make him 86 years old today and still driving. From the way he looked I think that assumption was about right. This is not a comment on 80+ year olds still driving, more an observation of how as a couple they got there in the first place.

You see if I was correct and he was 65 in 1990, he would have been born in 1925. When I looked on the Office of National Statistics website (the people behind the census) I discovered that his life expectancy at birth was 56.06 years and hers was only 59.91 years. How come they were holding up traffic on Friday then? Well they beat the average. Bang up to date estimates suggest that if you are healthy when you reach age 65 then as a male you can expect a further 17.5 years and as a female a further 20.2 years, making the total life expectancy for a healthy 65 year old today 82.5 for a male and 85.2 for a female.

This is a problem for pensions as our pot has to go further, otherwise it will run out before we do. I read a pension actuarial report recently and told my client he had reached immortality. According to his pension trustees, although he was three years older than when he received his last report his life expectancy today was no shorter. In the last three years therefore he had got no older. “It’s life Jim, but not as we know it”.


I have two questions this week as there was no question last time.
· Who said “It’s life Jim, but not as we know it”?
· The Maestro followed the Allegro which was manufactured from 1973. What unusual world first did this car have when it was launched?