Life expectancy study: Men don't live shorter than women

Life expectancy study
Men don’t live shorter than women

Women have a higher life expectancy. However, according to a Danish study, men stand a good chance of living longer – if they belong to the right social group.

Women live longer than men: This long-awaited claim is supported Danish study Take it into account. Accordingly, life expectancy is a very rough measure that obscures the view of deviations from the mean. In fact, married men with college degrees, for example, are more likely to live longer than women.

Life expectancy in Germany was in 2021 According to the Federal Statistical Office, Newborn girls at 83.2 years old and newborn boys at 78.2 years old. This difference between the sexes does not only apply to Germany. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), men die on average four years earlier than women.

Various explanations are offered as the reason for this discrepancy: sometimes a woman’s genetic advantages are seen as decisive, then again environmental or behavioral factors – for example, men tend to lead unhealthy lives or go to the doctor more often.

Comparing life expectancy is too simplistic

The starting point for such analyzes is usually a comparison of life expectancy, that is, life expectancy. However, this is a greatly simplified metric, scientists from the University of Southern Denmark in Odense write in the journal BMJ Open. However, this procedure does not take into account the differences in age between the sexes.

To get a complete picture, the team is relying on a different approach – the so-called survival stats. for the purpose of They examined gender differences in mortality in 199 countries over a period of about 200 years.

‘Great chance of surviving after women’

The results: “Although men have a generally lower life expectancy than women, and men’s mortality is higher in all age groups, men have a higher chance of surviving after women,” wrote Marie-Pierre Bergeron Boucher’s group . She even cites some examples of countries where men were more than 50 percent likely to live longer than women: Iceland in the late 20th century, Jordan and Iran in the 1950s, or Bhutan from 1995 to 2010.

In general, however, the probability that men lived longer than women ranged between 25 and 50 percent in nearly all years as the population was examined. In other words, over the past 200 years, one in four men (25 to 50 percent) has lived longer than women.

This means that the majority of women are still older than men, the authors write, “but the minority who do not are not small.” By far, not all men live shorter lives than women, which is ignored in purely life expectancy comparisons. The difference in life expectancy also depends on the fact that in many places a small part of the male population lives only for a very short time. “For example, boys in most countries die more often than girls,” the study said.

Survival statistics paint a more complex picture

In fact, survival statistics paint a more complex picture than just a comparison of life expectancy. Data from the USA show that the differences can be caused by external factors: there, between 2015 and 2019, men were 40 percent more likely to live longer than women. However, the analysis shows that men with a low educational level and single men have a particularly low chance of surviving a wife. On the other hand, men who are married with college degrees tend to live longer than women who are unmarried or without a high school diploma.

The team asserts that longevity is the result of a complex individual set of biological, environmental and behavioral factors. “While being male or female affects life expectancy, it is not the only factor that contributes to inequality.”

The divergent view is most important: “These findings refute the general impression that ‘men do not live as long as women’ and reveal a more subtle disparity in life expectancy for women and men.” The blanket statement that half the population is deprived of gender differences in life expectancy is a misleading statement: “The inequalities are more complex.” Therefore, efforts to reduce age inequalities should target different factors, causes and age groups.

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