Gender Life Expectancy Gap Increased From 2010 to 2021

Leading contributors to widening gender life expectancy gap from 2019 to 2021 included COVID-19, unintentional injuries
Gender Life Expectancy Gap Increased From 2010 to 2021
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Medically Reviewed By:
Meeta Shah, M.D.

MONDAY, Nov. 13, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- From 2010 to 2021, the gender life expectancy gap increased, with COVID-19 the leading contributor from 2019 to 2021, according to a research letter published online Nov. 13 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Brandon W. Yan, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues systematically examined the contribution of COVID-19 and other underlying causes of death to the widened gender life expectancy gap from 2010 to 2021 using mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The researchers found that the gender life expectancy gap increased 0.23 and 0.70 years from 2010 to 2019 and from 2019 to 2021, respectively. Prior to COVID-19 in 2020, for men versus women, the largest contributors to worsening life expectancy were unintentional injuries, diabetes, suicide, homicide, and heart disease (−0.23, −0.05, −0.04, −0.03, and −0.03 years [45.4, 10.1, 7.8, 5.3, and 4.9 percent], respectively). This was offset by differential improvement in mortality from cancer, Alzheimer disease, and chronic lower respiratory disease, among others, for men versus women (0.12, 0.06, and 0.04 years [43.1, 20.5, and 12.3 percent], respectively). COVID-19 became the leading contributor to the widening gender life expectancy gap from 2019 to 2021, followed by unintentional injuries (−0.33 and −0.27 years [39.8 and 32.5 percent], respectively). The increasing gap was partially mitigated by increasing maternal deaths among women and the relative reductions in cancer and perinatal conditions among men.

"This analysis finds that COVID-19 and the drug overdose epidemic were major contributors to the widening gender gap in life expectancy in recent years," the authors write.

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