Foolish Young Males and Women’s Survival Superiority

Virginia Zarulli , University of Southern Denmark
James W. Vaupel, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and Max Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging
Rune Lindahl-Jacobsen, Max Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging

There is the belief that the mortality of reckless young men generates most of the female advantage in life expectancy observed today, partly because of hormonal differences related to testosterone, partly because of behavioural differences between the two sexes. Both sets of factors display their strongest effect at young-adult ages, therefore one would expect these ages to play a key role in generating the gender gap in survival observed worldwide. We analysed the absolute and relative age specific contribution to the gender gap in life expectancy over time and we found that the young adult ages are clearly not the major contributors to the total gender in gap in life expectancy, neither today nor in the past. As life expectancy increases, old ages are becoming more and more the key player in the female survival advantage, while the contribution of young adult ages seems to remain on a constant level.

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 Presented in Session 202. The Impact of Midlife Mortality on Population Health