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Home > Catalog > Leases for Lives
Leases for Lives


  • Page extent: 270 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.54 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9781107111769)

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$125.00 (C)

Many historians of insurance have commented on the disconnect between the rise of English life insurance companies in the early eighteenth century and the mathematics behind the sound pricing of life insurance products that was developed at about the same time. Insurance and annuity promoters typically ignored this mathematical work. Bellhouse explores this issue, and shows that the early mathematical work was not motivated by insurance but instead by the fair valuation of life contingent contracts related to property. Even the work of the mathematician James Dodson in the creation of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, offering sound actuarially based premiums, did not change the industry in any significant way. The tipping point was a crisis in 1770 in which the philosopher and mathematician Richard Price, as well as other mathematicians, showed that a dozen or more recently formed annuity societies could not meet their financial obligations and were inviable.


Preface; 1. Introduction; 2. Mathematics and property in the seventeenth century; 3. Edmond Halley's life table; 4. Halley's impact or lack of it; 5. De Moivre and his early influence; 6. Mathematicians as consultants; 7. Mathematicians and early life insurance companies; 8. The annuity bubble of the 1760s and 70s; 9. The after shocks of the bubble on life annuities; 10. Developments in the life insurance industry in the later eighteenth century; 11. A return to roots; 12. Conclusion; Appendix I. Technical appendix; Appendix II. Life tables; Endnotes; Bibliography; Index.


'This is a distinctive work of scholarship, visiting ground that has never been as thoroughly subjected to such deep and expert examination. Bellhouse is especially knowledgeable about early English probability and its milieu, and about actuarial science. There is no one comparable in this combination of skills, and he is a master of the relevant archives as well.' Stephen Stigler, University of Chicago

'Bellhouse has surveyed a relatively neglected but important literature in the development of probability and statistics. The book is written with care and meticulous attention to detail, and the results are particularly interesting.' Sandy Zabell, Northwestern University

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