May 2018

New SOA Programs Focus on Strategic Research

 By Sara W. Goldberg and R. Dale Hall

Last year, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) embarked on a new initiative to identify key themes for actuarial research. This Strategic Research Program Initiative focused on a comprehensive review of potential research topics and themes that emphasize actuaries’ skillset and thought leadership on important societal issues.

The SOA developed the Strategic Research Program Initiative Task Force to manage this initiative, which was completed in 2017 and approved by the SOA Board of Directors. Five program themes were chosen, and these are aging and retirement; actuarial innovation and technology; mortality and longevity; health care cost trends; and catastrophe and climate. These programs span a variety of practice areas and research methods. The programs also have international applicability and are intended to reach several different audiences from SOA members to employers and the public.

Now the next step is to form research committees to plan and develop this research. The SOA created a visual overview on the five strategic research programs, which is available here. These strategic research programs include:

  • Aging and retirement research program: study the societal and financial impact of aging populations. It will provide insights on individual’s retirement risks, retirement income and decision making, pensions and retirement systems, and long-term care insurance. The SOA recently formed a steering committee to help plan and manage the development of this research.
  • Actuarial innovation and technology research program: explore the impact of new technologies on actuarial work and traditional employers of actuaries. Topics may include machine learning, accelerated underwriting, telematics and other innovations. The SOA will conduct initial planning on this program by the end of this year.
  • Mortality and longevity research program: develop and update experience studies and analyze mortality and longevity trends, including mortality improvement, population mortality, and the socioeconomic drivers of longevity.
  • Health care cost trends research program: study health care utilization and cost drivers, including demographics, social factors, public health, population health, and both medical and pharmaceutical utilization.
  • Catastrophe and climate research program: explore climate trends and the impact of extreme events on mortality and health, the use of public insurance, and disaster response efforts.

Stay tuned for more details on the development and progress on these programs. Visit the strategic research page for updates and also to find volunteer opportunities to participate. Contact if you have any questions on these programs.

Sara W. Goldberg, FSA, MAAA, is chair of the SOA Strategic Research Program Initiative Task Force.

R. Dale Hall, FSA, CERA, MAAA, is managing director of Research at the Society of Actuaries. He can be reached at