Showing posts with label first. Show all posts
Showing posts with label first. Show all posts

Oct 31, 2009

The first Actuary

As the story goes, insurance began around 1688 at a coffeehouse in London called Lloyds, where shipman discussed and divided their risks.

That 'explains' the birth of non life insurance.

But what about life insurance?

Who developed the first life table?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask...
  • Definitely Graunt in 1662 (statistical analyzes of data)
  • Surely De Witt in 1671 (life insurance tables)
  • Undoubtedly Halley: 1693 (life insurance tables)

Depending on what you define as a life table, answering this question often leads to a never ending semantic discussion.

Don't worry, there's help... In his Google-book, "A history of probability and statistics and their applications before 1750", Anders Hald explains the origin and development of life tables.

First Life Tables
An indeed, the 'first' life tables, based on more or less empiric data and interest rates were developed at the end of the 17th century.
The first actuary....
However, already in the 3rd century the Roman jurist Ulpian devised a table for the legal conversion of a life annuity to an annuity certain.
It was pointed out by Greenwood that the valuation (duration) of the annuities was deliberately chosen to high, in order to protect the interests of the legal heir.

This would implie that Ulpian not only did a tremendous job by estimating life annuities, but also developed and applied the first primitive 'Solvency Zero' principles...

With his 'simple table', Ulpian was more than ahead of his time.

So, we may rightfully conclude that the one and only first actuary was a jurist: Domitius Ulpianus, alias Ulpian

Strange that it took more than 1500 years to develop more sophisticated life- and annuity tables.

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