Gender and Life Expectancy

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

    Abstract

    Life expectancy at birth is an estimate of the number of years that a newborn baby will live – based on current age-specific death rates – and is used as a measure of health status. Women have a longer life expectancy at birth than men in nearly every country. This gender gap in longevity is influenced by both biological and sociocultural factors, but very little research has tried to integrate these different perspectives. The dramatic variation in gender differences in life expectancy across the world illustrates how the biological vulnerability of males interacts with the ways that men and women are treated in different societies. Social and cultural explanations for the gender gap in life expectancy draw on men's and women's social roles, health behaviors such as smoking and drinking alcohol, and traditional notions of “masculinity.” Researchers have commented on the supposed “paradox” of women living longer but having worse health than men (“women are sicker, but men die quicker”). However, this observation has been found to be simplistic; research which compares men and women in similar situations has found that gender differences in physical ill-health are either inconsistent or relatively small.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior, and Society
    EditorsW.C. Cockerham, R. Dingwall , S.R. Quah
    PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
    Pages617-620
    Number of pages4
    ISBN (Electronic)9781118410868
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Keywords

    • gender
    • life expectancy
    • health

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