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Gender convergence in human survival and the postponement of death

Mayhew, L. & Smith, D. (2012). Gender convergence in human survival and the postponement of death (Actuarial Research Paper No. 200). London, UK: Faculty of Actuarial Science & Insurance, City University London.


It has been a long accepted demographic maxim that females outlive males. Using data for England and Wales, we show that life expectancy at age 30 is converging and continuation of this long-term trend suggests it could reach parity in 2030. Key among the reasons identified for the narrowing of the gap are differences in smoking prevalence between males and females which have narrowed considerably. Using data from 30 comparator countries gender differences in smoking prevalence are found to explain over 75% of the variance in the life expectancy gap, but other factors such as female emancipation and better health care are also considered. The paper presents a model which considers differences in male and female longevity in greater detail using novel methods for analysing life tables. It considers the ages from which death is being postponed to the ages at which people now die; the relative speed at which these changes are taking place between genders; how the changes observed are affecting survival prospects at different ages up to 2030. It finds that as life expectancy continues to rise there is evidence for convergence in the oldest ages to which either gender will live.

Publication Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Publisher Keywords: life expectancy, gender gap, smoking prevalence, survival model convergence
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Departments: Bayes Business School > Actuarial Science & Insurance > Actuarial Research Reports
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