Finance Department

 

Date of this Version

1999

Document Type

Article

Citation

Journal of Actuarial Practice 7 (1999), pp. 73-106

Comments

Copyright 1999 Absalom Press

Abstract

As assumptions underlie every aspect of actuarial calculations, actuaries must be aware of the assumptions they are using and understand their importance and the possible effects of changing assumptions on the results of their calculations. This paper explores the nature of assumptions in: (i) mathematical models, (ii) data selection, (iii) actuarial methods, and (iv) the business environment. We examine reasons for making assumptions such as convenience, tradition, indications in the data, or lack of data. In addition, we discuss (i) how actuaries can judge whether these reasons are sufficient; (ii) methods that can help actuaries quantify the impact of their assumptions, such as what-if scenarios, simulation, and stress testing; and (iii) the circumstances for which testing is most important.

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