Monday, June 25, 2012

If anyone has a reason to strike, it should be Asian doctors

A few days ago there was a discussion on doctors' pensions - following the BMA strike - and I contributed this tweet:

Doctor retires at 60, 17 years life expectancy. Retires at 65, 17 months. Actuarial fact.

It got about 27 retweets.

As soon as I had hit Send, I thought, damn, they are going to ask me for a reference. I had been given this factoid in a GP seminar on pensions. I did a quick search, and found that it traced back to a Boeing survey of workers. The excellent @KaiserSnooze  found the a good 2002 review here which contains the source: see Table 1, which shows that those who retired at 50 died at 86, those who retired at 65 died at 66.8, and all the others distributed themselves neatly along the range.

However, it looks as if the author,  Sing Lin, PhD, in a later paper reports that the old Boeing data (may be 20 yrs. old) was flawed and cites a 2001 Sandia Labs study which shows that there is no clear influence of age of retirement on life span for age of retirement below 65.
See: Unfortunately access to that link is blocked.

In which way is the data "flawed"? Could the flaw be that it is to the disadvantage of the pensions industry?

Perhaps not. This paper shows that retiring at 60 makes little difference compared to 65. That was for workers in the petrochemical industry.

On the other hand, the good @DoctorAngry did a bit more digging, and found this paper, in a survey of obituaries in the BMJ, which showed that Asian doctors die aet 70, and Western docs die aet 78 (on average, obvs).

This means that when the government forces docs to work until 68, Asians can only expect 2 years of retirement, while Westerners will get a full decade.

So if anyone has reason to be on strike, it should be Asian doctors.

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