Men Live More Years Than Women

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Men, as per a new study, have a high probability of outliving women, especially those who are married and have a degree.

The study published in BMJ Open takes note of the statistical analysis spanning 200 years across all continents. In the study, the authors say that 25 per cent to 50 per cent men outlived women.  Until now, speculation was rife that women had the added advantage.  However, the researchers from a Denmark University in the new study shows that it is not the same as always thought. 


As part of the study, the researchers used a particular statistical approach. They used the ‘outsurvival’ statistic—-to study sex differences in deaths in 199 populations from every continent over a period of 200 years.

This statistic measures the probability that a person from a population with a high death rate will outlive someone from a population with a low death rate.

The researchers drew on life tables by sex and individual years for 41 countries from the Human Mortality Database, plus separate data for East and West Germany, and for the 4 countries of the UK. They also used abridged life tables from the World Population Prospects 2019 This provides sex-specific life tables for 199 countries by 5-year age groups and 5-year periods from 1950–54 to 2015–19. 

They compared the probability of men outliving women by education level and marital status, using national US statistics on deaths and population counts.


The analysis showed that since 1850 the probability of males outliving females has, at all points in time and across all populations, varied between 25 per cent and 50 per cent. They said that this was evident in Iceland in 1891; Jordan in 1950–54; Iran in 1950–64, Iraq in 1960–69; before 1985 in Bangladesh, India, and the Maldives; and between 1995 and 2010 in Bhutan. This showed that between one and two (25%-50%) out of every four men have outlived women for the past 200 years.

The researchers also noted that the probability of men outliving females fell until the 1970s  in developed countries. The later years saw a gradual increased in all populations. The rise and fall in sex differences in life expectancy were mainly attributed to smoking and other behavioural differences.

They also noted that t5he probability of men living longer than women is generally higher in low/middle-income countries.


The researchers highlight that South Asian countries had values above 50 per cent for men in the 1950s and 1960s. The death rate for children under five in India was higher for girls than for boys and remained higher for girls in recent years, they noted. However, they said that fewer girls than boys above the age of 15 died since 1980s, ‘balancing out’ the disadvantage at younger ages.


Another finding is  that the probability of married men outliving women was 39 per cent and 37 per cent for those who were not. For men with a university degree, the probability stood at 43 per cent 39 per cent for those without a high school diploma.

They also show that married men with a degree have an advantage over unmarried women educated only to high school level. They pointed out that couples influence each other’s health, and this is particularly true for men, who benefit more than women from being in a stable relationship.

They wrote in the study thus; “not all females outlive males, even if a majority do. But the minority that do not is not small. For example, a sex difference in life expectancy at birth of 10 years can be associated with a probability of males outliving females as high as 40%, indicating that 40% of males have a longer lifespan than that of a randomly paired female.”

The researchers also explain that death rate has fallen faster for women, overall, than for men under the age of 50, especially in the first half of the 20th century, largely as a result of improvements in infant and child deaths.


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