Humans Are Living Longer Across The World, Closing The Male-Female Longevity Gap


Across the globe, from the remote corners of Africa to the affluent streets of California, human life expectancy is on the rise, with the gender gap in longevity steadily narrowing, as researchers from Spain’s Unversidad de Alcalá reveal in the journal PLoS One.

Analyzing data spanning the past three decades, the researchers divided world populations into five distinct clusters. They observed a consistent trend of increasing life expectancies and diminishing disparities between males and females within each cluster. Projections based on this data suggest that these positive trends will persist into the coming decade.

Despite advancements in workplace safety that have led to a decline in occupational hazards for men, experts note that women still maintain a longer average lifespan. This difference is attributed in part to conditions associated with the Y chromosome, which predisposes men to certain non-communicable diseases with heightened fatality risks.

Examining global data from 1990 to 2000, researchers observed improvements in life expectancy across most countries over the past two centuries. Utilizing indicators such as life expectancy at birth and other mortality metrics from the United Nations Populations Division, they categorized countries into five clusters based on mortality trends from 1990 to 2010.

In all clusters, life expectancy saw a notable increase, accompanied by a narrowing gap in male-female mortality rates. Extending their analysis to predict outcomes for 2030, researchers anticipate a continuation of these positive trends.

While progress was evident across all regions, Africa stood out for experiencing the most significant improvements in mortality indicators.

“This fact clearly presents the growth in the aging processes around the world during the last 30 years. Even the best-performing high-income countries continue to grow, although these improvements slowed over time,” said lead author Professor David Atance.

He noted that the narrowing of the gender longevity gap, evident in both global cluster and country analyses, may stem from the gradual abandonment of past “harmful” lifestyles among blue-collar males in recent years.

As more segments of national populations reach their late 70s, 80s, and 90s, as predicted by Atance and others, society must promptly reassess the perception of old age. This entails moving away from the passive image of elderly individuals confined to rocking chairs and being cared for.

In likening gerontocracy to the concept of “elders versus the elderly,” renowned psychologist Gabor Maté highlights traditional societies where older individuals remain active contributors and esteemed members. These elders are sought for their wisdom and are still capable of making physical contributions to the community.