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Society of Actuaries Aging and Retirement Strategic Research Program 2018 Aging and Retirement Topics

Background and Purpose

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) Aging and Retirement Strategic Research Program, launched in 2018, encompasses several important research goals.  A key goal is to bring a holistic focus to the large and growing research related to aging and retirement that the SOA has traditionally conducted. The Program also seeks to initiate new research that furthers knowledge in a variety of aging and retirement topic areas. For the purpose of this request for proposals, several topics have been identified by the Program’s Steering Committee (PSC) as areas of interest for the coming year. These topics were chosen because of their potential for producing innovative and practical results, and expanding the boundaries of the actuarial profession and our knowledge of consumers.  

Research conducted on these topics is expected to benefit Program stakeholders, who include actuaries, retirement professionals, regulators, consumers and/or other interested parties.  The selected topics are described in the Research Objective section.

Research Objective

To broaden actuarial knowledge in aging and retirement topics and issues, the SOA Aging and Retirement Strategic Research PSC is seeking proposals on the topics described below. These topics have been identified by the PSC as areas of interest for 2018 and 2019. The description of each of the topics is intentionally brief and open-ended to provide researchers sufficient latitude in the development of their proposals. Researchers should not feel constrained by the listed topic questions, although proposals should document why the research approach and expected results fit within one or more of the broad topical areas.  

Key considerations in the proposal review process include a demonstration that the expected work will not duplicate existing material, will represent a significant expansion in current knowledge on the topic, and will afford a strong impact and benefit to the SOA membership and other intended stakeholders. In keeping with the strategic goals of this RFP, proposals should approach a topic with actuarial competencies in mind. This includes but is not limited to competencies such as management and measurement of risk.  Further, proposals should include an overarching focus on the core principles of SOA research including objectivity, quality, relevance and quantification. The PSC is particularly concerned about retirement security among middle and lower-income individuals, and is less concerned about high income or high net worth individuals. 

Projects can range in size, breadth and duration.  Output should include a project report and materials that can be used for member and stakeholder education; other project deliverables (such as spreadsheets, pivot tables, infographics, and models) that can enhance understanding of results are also encouraged. Successful researchers may be asked to present results and provide PowerPoint presentations that SOA members can use and share with others. Given the desire to advance knowledge on current subjects and provide timely results, preference will be given to projects that can be completed for publication and for use in continuing education in under 12 - 18 months.  It is preferred that initial phases of multi-phase projects be completed within 12 months.

Topic Areas:

  1. Life Decisions with Emphasis on Post-Retirement
    1. What constitutes a life decision? How would/should it be defined for the purposes of retirement and post-retirement vs. other purposes?
    2. How do life decisions made prior to retirement impact the quality of and level of income/wealth during post-retirement years?
    3. What are the most important life decisions that should be made prior to retirement? How do these change over time as retirement approaches?
    4. What are the most important life decisions to be made after retirement? 
    5. What events trigger the need for a change in course and new decisions?
    6. How do retirees compensate for or deal with unwise life decisions?
    7. How can the risk of making unwise life decisions be minimized?
  2. Family and Retirement
    1. What general issues should families consider, discuss and respond to, as individual family members prepare for retirement?
    2. How do those general issues differ for different family structures?
    3. Are there special issues for blended families, i.e., a family consisting of a couple and their children from the current and all previous relationships?  
    4. How do family issues related to retirement vary by demographic group, e.g., race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability?
    5. What are the retirement challenges for individuals without children?
    6. What are the potentially unique challenges for recent widows or widowers?
    7. What planning challenges do families with several children face, particularly if they are from different marriages?
  3. Understanding and Managing Cognitive Decline
    1.  At what point should potential cognitive decline become a planning consideration for retirement?
    2. What parties should be involved in determining how cognitive decline should be identified and the consequences managed both prior to retirement and post-retirement? 
    3. How do families and other close associates deal with the cognitive decline of loved ones, particularly in its early stages?
    4. How can potential risks (e.g., fraud, abuse, injury) stemming from cognitive decline best be managed? What is the role of various parties, including financial planners, in dealing with the consequences of cognitive decline?
  4. Post-Retirement Financial Risk Management Products and Services
    1. What are recent innovations in financial or insurance risk management products and services that address post-retirement risks?
    2. How can the effectiveness of post-retirement risk management products and services be measured?
    3. What have been the shortcomings of post-retirement financial risk management products and services over the years and how has the financial industry developed approaches to make improvements?  
    4. What new products and services might be effective and why? How should new products and services be evaluated? What are the barriers to implementing new products and services? How can the barriers be overcome?
    5. Are there products or services used in other countries that could be of interest in the U.S. (or vice versa)?
  5. Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Technology for Aging, Employment, Housing, and Care in Old Age
    1. What current needs in old age might artificial intelligence and technology address?  What benefits can be obtained by using them?
    2.  How pervasive is the current use or development of new technologies to address old age issues?
    3. What are the prospects for rapid growth in such technologies to address issues such as aging, employment, housing and care in old age?
    4.  What do experts see as the most likely AI/technology developments that could enhance the well-being of the elderly over the next 5,10, or 20 years?
    5. What are the implications of foreseeable technologies on health insurance, home care and retirement income needs for the elderly?

    The PSC encourages partnerships between academia and industry, where the resulting work can be of mutual interest and enhance the breadth of the research work.


    Proposals must pertain to one or more of the topics listed above. To facilitate the evaluation of proposals and applications, the following information should be submitted:

    1. Resumes of the researcher(s), including any additional research colleagues or graduate student(s) expected to participate, indicating how their background, education and experience bear on their qualifications to undertake the research. If more than one researcher is involved, a single individual should be designated as the lead researcher and primary contact. The person submitting the proposal must be authorized to speak on behalf of all the researchers as well as for the firm or institution on whose behalf the proposal is submitted.
    2. An outline of the approach to be used (e.g. literature search, model, survey, data analysis, etc.), emphasizing issues that require special consideration. Details should be given regarding the techniques to be used, collateral material to be consulted, and possible limitations of the analysis. The significance of the research to the SOA should be clearly stated.
    3. A description of the expected deliverables and any supporting data, tools or other resources needed to accomplish the project.
    4. Cost estimates for the research, considering items such as compensation for investigation, report preparation, and material costs.  Such estimates can be in the form of hourly rates, but in such cases, time estimates should also be included in order to determine the likely total cost of the project. Any guarantees as to total cost should be given and will be considered in the evaluation of the proposal. While cost will be a factor in the evaluation of the proposal, it will not necessarily be the decisive factor.
    5. A schedule for completion of the research, identifying key dates or time frames for research completion and report submissions.  The PSC is interested in completing these projects in a timely manner for maximum current impact.  Suggestions in the proposal for ensuring timely delivery, such as fee adjustments, are encouraged.
    6. Other related factors that give evidence of a proposer's capabilities to perform in a superior fashion should be detailed.

    Selection Process

    The PSC will oversee the selection of projects. The PSC will review each proposal and is responsible for recommending proposals to be funded.  Input from other knowledgeable individuals also may be sought, but the PSC will make all final decisions, subject to SOA leadership approval. SOA will provide staff actuarial support to develop and publish the final material.


    Any questions regarding this RFP should be directed to Steven Siegel, SOA Research Actuary (phone: 847-706-3578; email:

    Submission of Proposal

    Final proposals for the project should be sent via e-mail to Barb Scott at

    Proposals must be received no later than November 15, 2018. It is anticipated that proposers will be informed of the status of their proposal within 45 days of submission.

    Note: Proposals will be considered confidential, and in order to preserve the research intentions of the proposer will not be shared beyond SOA review teams.


    The selection of a proposal is conditioned upon and not considered final until a Letter of Agreement is executed by both the SOA and the researcher.

    The SOA reserves the right to not award contracts for this call for proposals. Reasons for not awarding a contract could include, but are not limited to, a lack of acceptable proposals or a finding that insufficient funds are available. The SOA also reserves the right to redirect the project to other committees or sections within the SOA as is deemed advisable.

    The SOA plans to hold the copyright to the research and to publish the results with appropriate credit given to the researcher(s).

    The SOA may choose to seek public exposure or media attention for the research.  By submitting a proposal, you agree to cooperate in publicizing or promoting the research and responding to media requests.

    The SOA may also choose to market and promote the research to members, candidates and other interested parties.  You agree to perform promotional communication as reasonably requested, which may include, but is not limited to, leading a webcast on the research, presenting the research at continuing education meetings, and/or writing an article on the research for an organizational publication.