A new research shows that male life expectancy would be equal to female by 2030, which means that the gap which was very prominent since the records began in 1841, is now set to close in.
Professor Leslie Mayhew, a statistician at Cass University, London, believes that the tables are turning. This means that by the time today’s 12-year-old boys reach 30, they can expect to live to a month or so over 87 – matching the lifespan of the girls they are in school with today.
But the Office for National Statistics estimates there would still be a gap of three and a half years. It also insisted that several factors must be taken into account when making long-term projections.
Professor Mayhew’s calculations apply only from the age of 30 as baby boys are still expected to be more fragile than girls and young men are more likely to die in sporting and road accidents.
He says that the ONS is too cautious and men are catching up in other countries too. In Sweden, it will take only until 2024 for a 30-year-old man to have the same number of years ahead of him, on average, as a woman of the same age.
Prof. Mayhew attributes the reason for this narrowing gap to the current lifestyle factor.
“One of the main reasons, I think, is the trend in the prevalence of smoking. Smoking took off after 1920 in the male population and at its high about 80% of males smoked,” Mayhew told BBC. “This was reflected in more divergence in the life expectancy, so by the time you get to about 1970 it was at its peak – the difference in life expectancy was about 5.7 years.”
He believes that soon there will be a reversal in the current trend of male and female life expectancy, as men have began to move towards healthier lifestyles.
Women life expectancy has always been greater around the world largely due to better diets, safe water and control of communicable diseases. By 1990, female life expectancy had exceeded male life expectancy in all developing regions. Most definitely, this new research signals very positive evidence of male awareness.
Prof. Mayhew pushed the prediction further as he told the Sunday Times: “There has been a huge decline in the numbers working in heavy industry, far fewer males smoke than before and there is much better treatment for heart disease, which tends to affect more males than females.”
While men are improving their habits by cutting down smoking, among other vices, women’s life expectancy is rising at a slower rate, aided by the fact that obesity is more common among females.
Anyhow, this certainly spells good news for women, as the research suggests companionship till ripe old age.
Sources: BBC News, iol, medicaldaily, worldbank, pru