Life Expectancy of Men and Women
Do Women live longer than Men?
Worldwide, women live longer than men. However, this hasn’t always been the case. According to data from developed countries, women did not live longer than men in the nineteenth century. Why do women now live longer? Has this advantage grown over time? We only have partial answers to our questions since the evidence is inadequate. We know that biological, behavioral, and environmental factors all play a role in women living longer than men. However, we don’t know how much each element contributes.
We know that several critical non-biological elements differ between men and women according to cultural and societal norms. This is at least part of the reasons why women live so much longer than men. Some of these elements are well-known and clear, such as that men smoke more frequently than women or engage in more dangerous activities. Others are more difficult to pinpoint. For example, there is evidence that the female advantage increased in rich countries in part because infectious diseases used to affect women disproportionately a century ago. So, with advances in medicine, the long-term health burden of infectious diseases is reduced which increased women’s longevity.
Life Expectancy of Men and Women
Men dying earlier than women makes biological sense: with 105 males born for every 100 females, there should be almost equal numbers of men and women at reproductive ages. However, while women in virtually every human society had a greater life expectancy in the last decade of the twentieth century, the extent of the advantage varied substantially. Life expectancy in the United States was 73.4 years for males and 80.1 years for females. A 6.7-year gap. Whereas it was 7.8 years in France and 5.3 years in the United Kingdom. The disparity was significantly bigger in certain countries. More than 12 years in Russia but only 0.6 years in India. It was much less in Bangladesh (0.1 years).
Longevity and Non-biological Factors
The fact that there is such a wide range in longevity around the globe suggests that the difference in mortality between men and women is not solely biological and that societal factors play a role. The current state of affairs reflects three stages of a three-part historical progression. Women most likely have a biological advantage that permits them to live longer. However, their status and living conditions in the past—and in certain places, still today—nulled this gain. Given today’s advancements in female life conditions, women have restored their biological advantage. They also participate in fewer unhealthy behaviors than males and because they benefit more from current breakthroughs in health care and living conditions, they end up living longer.
Genetic Differences Affecting Life Expectancy of Men and Women
Male mortality is higher than female mortality from the start of life. In the absence of any outside influence that could differentiate mortality between the sexes: male mortality is 25 to 30 percent higher than female mortality during the first year of life. Females have a clear genetic edge. Females have a second X chromosome to compensate for a mutation in one of the X chromosome genes. In contrast, males’ singular X chromosome expresses all genes, even if they are detrimental. The genetic difference between the sexes leads to general superior resistance to biological aging.
Role of Female Hormones
Female hormones and the role of women in reproduction are connected to longer life spans. Estrogen, for example, aids in the removal of bad cholesterol and may thus provide some protection against heart disease. Testosterone, on the other hand, has been associated with violence and risk-taking. Finally, the female body must create reserves to manage the demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding. This ability has been linked to a stronger ability to cope with overeating and the elimination of extra food.
Even though many biological and genetic components exist, their overall impact is impossible to quantify, particularly given social influences on mortality. Since the 18th century, exceptional economic and social growth has been followed by a huge reduction in social disparities between men and women. However, recent mortality patterns have gone considerably further than simply restoring an earlier advantage for women. According to evidence, the rise of so-called “man-made diseases,” which are more common in men, may be to blame for the rising excess male mortality in industrial countries. These include employment dangers in an industrial setting, drunkenness, smoking, and traffic accidents. All of these risk factors have increased significantly during the last century.
Life Expectancy and Gender
Jacques Vallin, a French demographer, has been studying longevity in general and sex differences in death in particular for a long time. He provides an interesting argument for women’s present mortality advantage that could explain recent trends: the large increase in excess male mortality coincided with an equally remarkable improvement in our societies’ general health conditions. In addition to the negative behavioral or environmental factors that affect men more than women, he contends that there may be a more basic difference in lifestyles that permits women to gain more from overall health improvements. Even though women now make up a large portion of the workforce, their responsibilities remain distinct, and their professional activities are less harmful to their health.
Furthermore, women frequently relate to their bodies, health, and lives in general in very different ways than men. Women crave beauty, whereas men seek strength and power; as a result, a woman’s body must remain youthful and healthy for as long as possible, while a man’s body must be exposed to risks and difficulties from an early age. As a result, women pay considerably more attention to their bodies and needs. They also often have more in-depth conversations with their doctors than men.
In a Word
The life expectancy of men and women differ because women are more likely to take care of their bodies. Rather than biological differences, women may benefit more from current medical and social developments by engaging in healthier habits to better safeguard their bodies.
Authored by Afifa Maryam Siddiqui
Edited by Yara Fakhoury
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