Why American men die younger than women on average and how to fix it

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Men die on average less often than women in the United States.

According to CDC data, American women’s life expectancy in 2021 was 79 years, compared to men, who stood at only 73.

“For as long as records have been kept in all countries, women have lived longer than men,” said Amelia Karraker, a program officer at the National Institute on Aging. “Basically, for almost every leading cause of death, men are more likely to die than women.”

The US has a higher rate of avoidable deaths, measured as deaths before age 75 among men, than any comparable country.

But there hasn’t always been such a huge difference between men and women. What became known as the “woman advantage” emerged around 1890 and continued to grow throughout the 20th century, except for a decline during the 1918 flu pandemic.

This change over time suggests to researchers that there may be an environmental component to life expectancy. This means there are steps we can take to help men live longer.

“Everyone, men as well as women, benefit from a suite of specialized treatments,” Karkar said. “Eating a healthy diet, getting physical activity, not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, maintaining deep, supportive social relationships. These are things that benefit everyone, including men.”

“What is it about the socialization of men that means they are not participating in the health care system the way they should to extend their lives?” said Darrell Bricker, Global CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs and co-author of the book “Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline.”

This life expectancy gap can have serious effects on entire societies.

“If you make it past age 60 to 65, you can still expect to live a very long time,” said Nari Rea, director of the Retirement Security Program at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. “And I would say it’s a particular issue for women, because women can expect to live longer, but earn less, have patchy careers because of caring for both children and often elders.”

This financial disadvantage for women can put a strain on the federal safety net, especially Social Security.

“Demographics really is destiny,” Bricker said. “If you reshape people, you reshape everything.”

see Video Head on over to learn more about why men die on average younger than women and what we can do to change this.

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