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Men will be living as long as women by 2030, according to new research
Date of article: 08-Aug-12
Article By: Sue Learner, News Editor
Men will be living as long as women by 2030, according to new research from City University in London.
The report ‘Gender Convergence in Human Survival and the Postponement of Death’ revealed that the decrease in the prevalence of smoking in men and the drop in the number of men employed in professions such as mining, combined with life expectancy in women increasing at a lower rate, means that when today’s 12-year-old boys reach 30, they can expect to live as long as the girls they are in school with today.
Currently more boys die before the age of one than girls, although a fall in the number of infant deaths since 1970 in England and Wales has meant this difference is less noticeable than previously.
More men tend to die between the ages of 16 and 30 than women.
Researchers put this down to men tending to be more involved in riskier activities such as dangerous sports, tending to be more prone to road and other accidents, and more likely to commit suicide.
However researchers have found that female and male life expectancy has been equalising over the years.
By 2009, female life expectancy stood at 53.2 years and male life expectancy at 49.4 years, a difference of 3.8 years.
This compares with a gap of 5.7 years in 1970.
Professor Les Mayhew of Cass Business School, said in the report "The converging of male and female life expectancy may be a help rather than a hindrance in this respect, especially if it leads to fewer women living alone and in isolation for the last few years of their lives."
However he added: "The economic and practical ramifications of the postponement of death over a long period are considerable. The extra years lived into a person’s 80s and beyond will require assets to be decumulated over more years putting a strain on personal finances.
"In addition, both the state and families as well as individuals will experience increases in health and social care costs and there may not be enough caregivers to look after all older people in the future."
The fall in the number of smokers in Britain is one of the factors making a big difference to people's life expectancy.
Currently about one in six of all deaths in England and Wales are smoking related.
Of these, about 60 per cent are among men and 40 per cent are women.
Also since the 1980s the UK has undergone a significant industrial transformation with the numbers employed in manufacturing and mining falling substantially.
Employment in the coal mining industry, strongly associated with lung disease, has fallen from a peak of 1.2m in 1920, 0.3m in 1970 to 5,000 today.
On the female side, the emancipation of women may have led to life expectancy improving at a slower rate.
This is thought to be partly because women have taken up habits such as drinking alcohol above the recommended limits.