The sterner sex, the weaker sex. Two patterns of excess male mortality
Agnieszka Fihel, University of Warsaw
The difference in female and male life expectancy is the characteristic feature of almost all populations over the world. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, to analyse the gender life expectancy gap in its historic dimension. For this purpose the decomposition of the difference between male and female life expectancies according to the age and cause of death is presented. The results indicate the existence of two patterns of decompositions: the first one took place at the initial stage of modernization (the demographic data pertains to the first half of the 19th century) and was strictly related to the male infant mortality due to developmental and infectious diseases. During the next 150 years the difference between male and female life expectancies increased and the second pattern appeared. This pattern can be characterized by very low excess male mortality in the infancy and high excess male mortality in the adulthood and old age, mainly due to cardiovascular diseases and tumours. The second aim of this paper is to show that the increase in the difference in female and male life expectancy has been inherently related to modernization phenomena and to diagnose specific components of modernization that mostly contributed to this increase. The analysis covers the period from the end of the 18th century to the present times, and is based on the life tables for France (1806-1996), England and Wales (1841-2003), although several examples pertain also to Italy and Switzerland. The decomposition of the excess male mortality by cause of death is based on the data for England and Wales (1848-2003). The main impact is put on mortality rates under 1 year and over 50 years, as these particular age groups determine two different patterns of excess male mortality.
Presented in Session 87: Sex Differentials