Why Women Live Longer 1 1

Topics: Gerontology, Ageing, Senescence Pages: 3 (1335 words) Published: December 8, 2014
Why Women Live Longer
Thomas Kirkwood

1. If there are any men left who still believe that women are the weaker sex, it is long past time for them to think again. With respect to that most essential proof of robustness—the power to stay alive—women are tougher than men from birth through to extreme old age. The average man may run a 100-meter race faster than the average woman and lift heavier weights. But nowadays women outlive men by about five to six years. By age 85 there are roughly six women to every four men. At age 100 the ratio is more than two to one. And by age 122—the current world record for human longevity—the score stands at one-nil in favor of women. 2. So why do women live longer than men? One idea is that men drive themselves to an early grave with all the hardship and stress of their working lives. If this were so, however, then in these days of greater gender equality, you might expect the mortality gap would vanish or at least diminish. Yet there is little evidence that this is happening. Women today still outlive men by about as much as their stay-at-home mothers outlived their office-going fathers a generation ago. Furthermore, who truly believes that men's work lives back then were so much more damaging to their health than women's home lives? Just think about the stresses and strains that have always existed in the traditional roles of women: a woman's life in a typical household can be just as hard as a man's. Indeed, statistically speaking, men get a much better deal out of marriage than their wives—married men tend to live many years longer than single men, whereas married women live only a little bit longer than single women. So who actually has the easier life? 3. It might be that women live longer because they develop healthier habits than men—for example, smoking and drinking less and choosing a better diet. But the number of women who smoke is growing and plenty of others drink and eat unhealthy foods. In any case,...
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