Why American men die younger than women, on average, and how to fix it
On average, men die younger than women in the United States.
According to CDC data, American women had a life expectancy of 79 years in 2021, compared to men who were only about 73 years.
“As long as records were kept in all countries, women outlived men,” said Amelia Karraker, a program officer at the National Institute on Aging. “For almost all major causes of death, men are more likely than women to die.”
The US has a higher rate of preventable deaths, measured as deaths before age 75, among males than any comparable country.
But it wasn’t always such a big gap between men and women. What became known as the “female advantage” emerged around 1890 and continued to grow throughout the 20th century, except for a dip during the 1918 flu pandemic.
This change over time suggests to researchers that life expectancy may have an environmental component. That means there are some steps we can take to help men live longer.
“Everyone, both men and women, benefits from a certain set of behaviors,” Karraker said. “Eating a healthy diet, being physically active, not smoking, drinking no to moderate alcohol, maintaining deep, supportive social relationships. These are things that benefit everyone, including men.”
“What is it about men’s socialization that they don’t participate in the healthcare system as they should in order to prolong 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 gap in life expectancy can have serious consequences for society as a whole.
“If you make it to age 60-65, you can still expect to live quite a long time,” said Nari Rhee, director of the Retirement Security Program at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. “And I would say it’s a particular problem for women because women can expect to live longer, but they’ve had lower incomes, they’ve had more patchy careers because of caring, both for children and often for the elderly.”
This financial disadvantage for women could strain the federal safety net, particularly Social Security.
“Demographics really is destiny,” Bricker said. “When you change the shape of people, you change the shape of everything.”
Watch them Video above to learn more about why men, on average, die younger than women and what we can do to change this.