Gender Gap in Life Expectancy

Often while scrolling through social media, we must come across content making fun of why men cannot outlive women and proceed to show videos of men fighting with bears or engaging in other dangerous behavior. However, is there any veracity to such posts?

Meaning and Overview

Men are often regarded as the superior gender since they are generally bigger, more robust, and appear to be tougher than women. Nevertheless, medical science has a contrary narrative to share: men are naturally inferior to women. Women generally outlast males over the world, while male lethality is greater in almost all leading sources of fatalities. For several other animal species, including humans, females outlive males in terms of durability.

On a global scale, there are about 105 boys born for every 100 girls, creating a male-biased natural sex ratio at birth. Males outlive females at every age as children age, resulting in an equal distribution of the sexes as adults. In most nations, the demographic gender ratio typically flips as people get older, with more women than men. As a result, women make up approximately 90% of all documented supercentenarians (>110 years old) alive today. The continuing coronavirus epidemic is another reminder of the mortality disparity between men and women. It has been discovered that COVID-19 kills greater men than women in the nations where data is available.

Biological Reasons

From a biological perspective, men are biologically predisposed to pass away at birth sooner than women. The data suggests that male fetuses are anatomically inferior and much more susceptible to mother stress and pregnancy problems than female fetuses. The number of preterm delivery and the greater neonatal and newborn mortality rates in boys relative to girls makes this abundantly apparent. The sex disparities at birth support the biological rationale for men's shorter life expectancy.

It is common to blame genetic abnormalities for men's excessive morality. Sex hormones are thought to be a major factor in why women tend to live longer than men. Since the female reproductive hormone estrogen prevents cardiovascular diseases, women have a marked reduction up to menopause. Conversely, men's higher androgen hormone levels are linked to a heightened incidence of cardiovascular illnesses. Another element that may add to the lifespan discrepancy is the better immune systems of women. Female bodies create more antibodies and better immunological responses than male bodies. This improves females' resistance to bacterial, viral, and respiratory diseases, such as the fatal COVID-19.

Social Reasons

Men are thought to have shorter lives because they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors like smoking and drinking too much alcohol and greater work-related stress. Men are often handicapped, related to workplace risks, and purportedly "masculine" behaviors that are extremely harmful and unhealthy.

They consequently lose their lives in traffic accidents, war, and sporting events. Men's propensity for risky health behaviors has been linked to the male sex hormone testosterone, according to research. This could be why studies have linked marriage to longer life expectancy in males but not women. Men may be shielded from harmful social habits by marriage, but women, independent of marital status, are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.

Status in India

India started its move to better health with a dismal average life expectancy of 24.8 years, similar to many other Asian countries. India's average life expectancy rose to 62 years at the century's onset. After the 1990s, however, the expansion rate dropped. The world's population will live an average of 73.3 years from 2019 onward. In addition to falling short of international norms, most of India's neighbours are also faring superior to India. In India, there are variances in life expectancy across and within the general population and distinctions based on gender and domicile. A deeper comprehension of the chronological profile of death is necessary to create policies and implement a targeted demographic strategy to lower mortality and raise the average life expectancy.

The fact that India maintained a greater male life expectancy during the transition, in contrast to the majority of industrialized and numerous emerging regions, is another notable peculiarity of the country's fatality switchover. In academia, the terminology "crossover" describes the shift in trend. At the national scale, female LEB had swept up to male LEB between 1981 and 1985. Following the crossovers, the gender disparity steadily closed nationally during the following 3.5 years, from 2009 to 2013.

The highest gap in male-female expectancy India attained in 2009–2013 is tiny relative to most affluent and several third-world countries. India's experience is, therefore, distinctive in many formats. At the regional level, the male-female overlap was finished by 2003–2007 in each big state for which abbreviated life tables are obtainable from the Sample Registration System. The bulk of life tables widely available and virtually universally in industrialized nations show that females have a greater average life expectancy.

Life Expectancy in other Countries

Men's highest incidence in the US and the gender imbalance in average lifespan in the EU are both found to be significantly influenced by gender inequality. Female survival edge is thought to develop in older ages, according to decomposition analysis used to pinpoint the age- and cause-specific causes of the gender disparity. Two, there is a life expectancy gap between men and women in Asia. It is noteworthy that, in the 1950s, there were around seven nations in the globe where women's average life expectancy was lower than men's, and even more intriguingly, six were in South Asia.

The substantial maternal death rate among Asian women and the conventional family and societal structure, where sons are prioritized and given access to quality healthcare and scholastic opportunities over daughters, are among the root causes of the inequalities faced by women in south Asian nations. Physiological and hereditary variables are combined with exogenous conditions, and the biological boost women enjoy against men is offset by environmental impediments for women in developing countries. Furthermore, there is proof that conflicts and natural disasters than men more negatively impact women.

Greater life expectancy amongst females was the consequence of certain advancements in the fatality scenario, notably across adult women. It was mostly a result of general advancements in public health facilities and reproductive health care. Considering lesser women would be subjected to the danger of pregnancy-related fatalities due to a fall in fertility, pregnancy-related deaths should decrease. Various explanations are put forth concerning mortality differences with age; one is "the twofold danger," and another is "age as an equalizer." According to the first hypothesis, being a woman and becoming older are neither significant advantages. Consequently, mortality rates and health issues are predicted to rise among older females.


It is obvious why women seem to be the most virtuous sex and true winners in the grand lottery of life. The female premium in life expectancy is one of the foremost prominent elements of human nature, giving women an inbuilt physiological edge over men. Biology cannot explain why the gender discrepancy in average lifespan will change over time; thus, it is just a fraction of the narrative.

The prevalence of certain diseases and trajectories of mortality may differ according to gender as a result of interactions between biology and society. However, the proportional impact of genetics and society on women's longer life expectancy is debatable. There is a biological disparity in life expectancy between men and women; not just society can eliminate this.

On the other hand, the class divide in life expectancy is arbitrary and deliberate. In essence, the gender disparity in lifespan cannot be eliminated because we seldom can modify our hereditary and physiological make-ups. Even if biology only contributes a tiny fraction to the shorter life expectancy of men, gender parity in health may never be achieved. However, we can close the gap by encouraging healthy habits and planning a system where both sexes would have an equal opportunity to achieve their healthiest potency.

Updated on: 05-Apr-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started