Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Britain is less and less a country for more and more old women as opposed to old men

Traditionally, British women live longer than men. However, a combination of more women taking on the stress of full-time work, often at the same time as looking after children or parents, as well as adopting more unhealthy lifestyles has seen the gap close.  A new statistical analysis of life expectancy in England and Wales since 1950 suggests that, by the year 2032, men can expect to live as long as women, with both sexes sharing an average life expectancy of 87.5 years.

Women are also being diagnosed with traditional 'male' diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure and adopting unhealthy habits, such as binge drinking, that were once the preserve of men may also be taking its toll. For men, on the other hand, quitting smoking and taking more care of their health in middle age is believed to have boosted their life expectancy.

At the moment the average life expectancy in England is 82.9 for women and 78.9 for men but Public Health England figures suggest that men can now expect to outlive women in 110 districts. In general, lifespans of men and women are closer than at any time since the early 1950s – a time when women lived on average until 70 and men into their late 60s.

Les Mayhew, an Adviser to the Office for National Statistics, said : “There is a long-running trend since the 1970s for male life expectancy to catch up with female, and in some areas they have now caught or surpassed it. The figures show which areas are in the lead for this phenomenon, but the gain for male life expectancy is to do with the lifestyle of the men living there rather than something unusual about the geographical location.” He suggested that men in such areas tend to be better educated and have the best work prospects.

Danny Dorling, Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford said : “The difference between the genders also narrows because of the introduction of contraception and female entry into the labour market. But the really interesting thing is it’s actually a kind of reverse inequality: women have lived longer than men who are paid more throughout their lives and are structurally advantaged in any number of ways. We haven’t entirely worked out why that might be.”

Majid Ezzati, Professor of Global Environmental Health at Imperial College, said the gap can be attributed largely to social rather than biological factors : “It’s actually the existence of the gap that is unusual, rather than the narrowing. It’s a recent phenomenon which began in the 20th century.”

In addition to the heavy male death tolls caused by two world wars, men started to smoke in large numbers before women did and women’s consumption never outpaced men’s. Male cigarette consumption peaked in the 1940s when tobacco industry figures revealed that more than two-thirds of men smoked whereas female consumption peaked later, in the 1960s. As well as changing attitudes to cigarettes and alcohol, the loss of heavy industry jobs, which were statistically more dangerous in both the short- and long-term, also disproportionately affected men

At present, the biggest gap in lifespan between the sexes is in Crawley, West Sussex, where men are outliving women by 13 years. In the borough’s middle-class neighbourhood of Bewbush and Broadfield men can expect to live to 96, while women reach only 83 on average.

The latest findings, from Public Health England for 2006 to 2010, show that the second biggest gap in longevity between men and women, after Crawley, is in the wealthy area of Ladbroke Grove East in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. Here, men tend to live to 93 and women only to eighty-seven and a half – a difference of five and a half years. A second area in the posh borough, Sloane Street, comes in at number three for men living longer than women. There, men can live to 93.5, 4.9 years longer than the women at 88.6 years.

“As the life expectancy gap narrows, our understanding of what it means to be a man and a woman changes.” 
Danny Dorling

No comments:

Post a Comment