Women now live longer than men even in poorest countries

Apr 07, 2006

2006 is likely to be the first year in human history when, across almost all the world, women can expect to outlive men, say researchers from the University of Bristol and the University of Sheffield in this week's BMJ.

The trend towards this remarkable achievement will probably be confirmed this week in the 2006 world health report.

"We tend to forget that in many countries of the world women could expect, until recently, to live fewer years than men and that maternal death in particular remains a big killer," write Professor George Davey Smith of the University’s Department of Social Medicine and colleagues.

In Europe, men last outlived women in the Netherlands in 1860 and in Italy in 1889. Elsewhere females' life expectancy has long exceeded males': in Sweden since 1751, Denmark since 1835, England and Wales since 1841.

But in all western European countries the life expectancy gap between women and men is now narrowing.

Greater emancipation has freed women to demand better health care and to behave more like men, and most importantly to smoke, say the authors. As this transition is so recent, the processes driving it cannot be purely biological: they relate primarily to social change.

"We must remember, though, that life expectancy data apply from birth onwards, so the picture would be different in some countries if life expectancy from conception was considered," they add.

"But even the life expectancy from birth may not be a permanent achievement, given that the largest remaining untapped market for cigarettes in the world is made up of women living in poorer countries," they conclude.

Source: University of Bristol

Explore further: Decision cascades in social networks

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Trawling makes for skinny flatfish

Dec 11, 2014

Trawling the seabed doesn't just remove some of the fishes living there; it also makes some of the survivors thinner and less healthy by forcing them to use more energy finding less nutritious food.

Many parenting apps are reinforcing the gender divide

Nov 06, 2014

Almost every day, a smartphone app emerges offering some new and exciting functionality. But it's come to my attention that many of these apps are continuing an old trend: they are purveyors of gender-based ...

In Amazon wars, bands of brothers-in-law

Oct 27, 2014

When Yanomamö men in the Amazon raided villages and killed decades ago, they formed alliances with men in other villages rather than just with close kin like chimpanzees do. And the spoils of war came from ...

World population likely to peak by 2070

Oct 23, 2014

World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and ...

Recommended for you

Study sheds new light on the diet of extinct animals

7 hours ago

A study of tooth enamel in mammals living today in the equatorial forest of Gabon could ultimately shed light on the diet of long extinct animals, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

Decision cascades in social networks

9 hours ago

How do people in a social network behave? How are opinions, decisions and behaviors of individuals influenced by their online networks? Can the application of math help answer these questions?

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.