According to the latest figures from INSEE, a girl born in 2013 can hope to live until 2097, exactly 84.8 years. For little boys, on the other hand, the prognosis is only 78.4 years, that is almost six and a half years difference.
This imbalance between the sexes in terms of life expectancy is almost original. In almost all species there is a slight differential in favor of sex, which ensures the protection of the young. Whether male or female, the “parent” tends to adopt caution and avoidance of danger, unlike the “hunter” who takes risks to bring back food for his family.
But this difference in survival is weak and not enough to explain the current gap of 6 ½ years. For our species, the ability of women to longevity did not really come to light until mid-18th century. Food, medicine, social and political organization, education, town planning, all that man has implemented to date to improve his quality of life in everyday life has had two demographic consequences: the doubling of the expectation of life of both sexes and the highlighting of this feminine advantage.
“The emancipation of societies has widened the gap in favor of women, says demographer and epidemiologist Jean-Marie Robine. They have demonstrated better longevity and greater biological robustness than men .Something that was previously unnoticed because the context was generally unfavorable for survival. In the 1950s, American demographer Francis Madigan confirmed this biological hypothesis by studying the life expectancy of two isolated religious communities, applying the same monastic way of life to men and women and cutting them off from the rest of the world. society. Differences in sex-specific mortality rates followed the same pattern as in the US population; women survived men.
One of the arguments advanced to explain female biological robustness is based on natural selection. Over the generations, only the most vigorous ones who did not die in childbirth or infections were able to transmit their genetic heritage, thus over-arming their descendants against adversity.
Parity reduces the gap in life expectancy
Since 1994, however, the gap in life expectancy between men and women has narrowed, going from 8.2 to 6.4 years in France. This trend is also observed in other developed countries. Recent developments in our societies tend to reduce lifestyle differences between men and women. Whether it’s access to care, smoking, the leading provider of cancer deaths and cardiovascular disease, or occupational exposure to stress or other risks, gender parity is on the way.
This suggests that the longevity gap observed so far may fade. But, it is unlikely that this inequality disappears completely. He wants proof of life expectancy in good health almost equivalent for both sexes. According to figures published earlier this week by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the EU, it is 63.6 years for women and 62.7 years for men. In other words, the mortality differential is growing afterwards among seniors. An additional proof of the greater feminine sturdiness, this time in chronic diseases and in old age disabilities.