Cause-of-death contribution to the female-male gap in mortality in the United States

Magdalena Muszynska, Duke University
Roland Rau, University of Rostock

We hypothesize that the narrowing sex-gap in life-expectancy in the US since the mid-1970s resulted from differential benefits from medical developments for both sexes. Hence, we study the effect of medically amenable causes of death on the existing sex-gap, by decomposing the difference in the mean duration of life between ages 0 and 75 into four large groups of causes of death. In the years 1968–2004, we do observe excess female mortality from causes amenable to medical care. This effect, however, resulted from excess mortality from female breast cancer, and not any cause of death that both sexes would be equally exposed to. We conclude that disregarding morbidity, we could not show that the sex differences in the effectiveness of medical interventions and access to those result in the narrowing gap in life-expectancy.

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Presented in Session 96: Sex differences in risk factors, disability and mortality