Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/87

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76
ANNUITY

persons; (b) those held by government departments or by funds under government control. The important difference between these two classes is that an annuity under (a), once created, cannot be modified except with the holder’s consent, i.e. is practically unalterable without a breach of public faith; whereas an annuity under (b) can, if necessary, be altered by interdepartmental arrangement under the authority of parliament. Thus annuities of class (a) fulfil most perfectly the object of the system as explained above; while those of class (b) have the advantage that in times of emergency their operation can be suspended without any inconvenience or breach of faith, with the result that the resources of government can on such occasions be materially increased, apart from any additional taxation. For this purpose it is only necessary to retain as a charge on the income of the year a sum equal to the (smaller) perpetual charge which was originally replaced by the (larger) terminable charge, whereupon the difference between the two amounts is temporarily released, while ultimately the increased charge is extended for a period equal to that for which it is suspended. Annuities of class (a) were first instituted in 1808, but are at present mainly regulated by an act of 1829. They may be granted either for a specified life, or two lives, or for an arbitrary term of years; and the consideration for them may take the form either of cash or of government stock, the latter being cancelled when the annuity is set up. Annuities (b) held by government departments date from 1863. They have been created in exchange for permanent debt surrendered for cancellation, the principal operations having been effected in 1863, 1867, 1870, 1874, 1883 and 1899. Annuities of this class do not affect the public at all, except of course in their effect on the market for government securities. They are merely financial operations between the government, in its capacity as the banker of savings banks and other funds, and itself, in the capacity of custodian of the national finances. Savings bank depositors are not concerned with the manner in which government invests their money, their rights being confined to the receipt of interest and the repayment of deposits upon specified conditions. The case is, however, different as regards forty millions of consols (included in the above figures), belonging to suitors in chancery, which were cancelled and replaced by a terminable annuity in 1883. As the liability to the suitors in that case was for a specified amount of stock, special arrangements were made to ensure the ultimate replacement of the precise amount of stock cancelled.

Annuity Calculations.—The mathematical theory of life annuities is based upon a knowledge of the rate of mortality among mankind in general, or among the particular class of persons on whose lives the annuities depend. It involves a mathematical treatment too complicated to be dealt with fully in this place, and in practice it has been reduced to the form of tables, which vary in different places, but which are easily accessible. The history of the subject may, however, be sketched. Abraham Demoivre, in his Annuities on Lives, propounded a very simple law of mortality which is to the effect that, out of 86 children born alive, 1 will die every year until the last dies between the ages of 85 and 86. This law agreed sufficiently well at the middle ages of life with the mortality deduced from the best observations of his time; but, as observations became more exact, the approximation was found to be not sufficiently close. This was particularly the case when it was desired to obtain the value of joint life, contingent or other complicated benefits. Therefore Demoivre’s law is entirely devoid of practical utility. No simple formula has yet been discovered that will represent the rate of mortality with sufficient accuracy.

The rate of mortality at each age is, therefore, in practice usually determined by a series of figures deduced from observation; and the value of an annuity at any age is found from these numbers by means of a series of arithmetical calculations. The mortality table here given is an example of modern use.

The first writer who is known to have attempted to obtain, on correct mathematical principles, the value of a life annuity, was Jan De Witt, grand pensionary of Holland and West Friesland. Our knowledge of his writings on the subject is derived from two papers contributed by Frederick Hendriks to the Assurance Magazine, vol. ii. p. 222, and vol. iii. p. 93. The former of these contains a translation of De Witt’s report upon the value of life annuities, which was prepared in consequence of the resolution passed by the states-general, on the 25th of April 1671, to negotiate funds by life annuities, and which was distributed to the members on the 30th of July 1671. The latter contains the translation of a number of letters addressed by De Witt to Burgomaster Johan Hudde, bearing dates from September 1670 to October 1671. The existence of De Witt’s report was well known among his contemporaries, and Hendriks collected a number of extracts from various authors referring to it; but the report is not contained in any collection of his works extant, and had been entirely lost for 180 years, until Hendriks discovered it among the state archives of Holland in company with the letters to Hudde. It is a document of extreme interest, and (notwithstanding some inaccuracies in the reasoning) of very great merit, more especially considering that it was the very first document on the subject that was ever written.

Table of Mortality—Hm, Healthy Lives—Male.
Number Living and Dying at each Age, out of 10,000
entering at Age 10.
Age. Living. Dying. Age. Living. Dying.
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
10,000
9,921
9,921
9,881
9,846
9,806
9,784
9,784
9,743
9,684
9,616
9,560
9,493
9,434
9,361
9,297
9,249
9,185
9,125
9,054
8,987
8,913
8,848
8,774
8,701
8,625
8,554
8,479
8,398
8,311
8,223
8,142
8,057
7,970
7,886
7,793
7,696
7,600
7,493
7,387
7,274
7,154
7,030
6,910
79
0
40
35
40
22
0
41
59
68
56
67
59
73
64
48
64
60
71
67
74
65
74
73
76
71
75
81
87
88
81
85
87
84
93
97
96
107
106
113
120
124
120
119
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
 
6791
6662
6509
6359
6207
6051
5898
5714
5528
5337
5137
4931
4716
4496
4276
4039
3793
3580
3358
3090
2847
2547
2306
2061
1837
1611
1392
1196
1005
832
660
541
424
332
260
186
150
116
80
44
15
15
10
 
129
153
150
152
156
153
184
186
191
200
206
215
220
220
237
246
213
222
268
243
300
241
245
224
226
219
196
191
173
172
119
117
92
72
74
36
34
36
36
29
0
5
10
 


It appears that it had long been the practice in Holland for life annuities to be granted to nominees of any age, in the constant proportion of double the rate of interest allowed on stock; that is to say, if the towns were borrowing money at 6%, they would be willing to grant a life annuity at 12%, and so on. De Witt states that “annuities have been sold, even in the present century, first at six years’ purchase, then at seven and eight; and that the majority of all life annuities now current at the country’s expense were obtained at nine years’ purchase”; but that the price had been increased in the course of a few years from eleven years’ purchase to twelve, and from twelve to