Aggressive year-end sales efforts by North American life insurers buoyed 2003 year-end results with December application activity showing a 4.7% year-over-year increase according to the MIB Life Index.  December application activity in the U.S. and Canada increased 4.9% and 3.5% respectively compared to the same period last year.  Year-end strength appreciably buffered overall North American fourth quarter results which declined only 1.3%; averting more problematic declines observed in the prior three quarters. Year-to-date (YTD) results depict a challenging year with U.S. application activity down 4.1% YTD and Canadian activity down 1.4% YTD compared to application activity last year.

Significantly, December's growth was shared by all age groups. North American application activity in the 60+ age demographic was up 10.1% over last December, marking the year's fourth largest increase in this enduringly strong demographic; U.S. up 9.7%, Canada up 14.4%. In the age 45-59 age demographic, North America was up 7.9% overall; U.S. up 8.3%, Canada up 4.4%. Notably, the 0-44 age group showed its first growth all year in both North America, up 2.6% and in the U.S., up 2.7%. Canada's 1.8% year-over-year increase in this age group was the fifth in 2003. MIB Life Index

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