In some countries, the gap in life-expectancy between men and women is getting wider. That's one of a number of interesting findings in the summer 2005 edition of Health Statistics Quarterly published by the Office for National Statistics.
Among developed countries the difference between male and female life expectancy at birth in 2002 ranged from 4.4 (Sweden) to 13.2 years (Russian Federation). The Russian Federation (together with other countries of former USSR, excluding the Baltic States) experienced a decrease in male life expectancy starting from mid 1980s.
There was, according to the report, a partial recovery due to anti-alcohol measures introduced by Gorbachev, but once they were revoked male life expectancy decreased to the lowest level in 1994 (57.6 years). This decrease gave the Russian Federation the largest sex difference in life expectancy in both 1980 and 2002.
Although Russia is the only country where life expectancy worsened for both sexes from 1980 to 2002 (albeit at a slower pace for women), countries such as Spain and Japan also showed an increase in the gap in life expectancy at birth between men and women, of 0.9 and 1.5 years respectively. Russia had an increased gap of 1.6 years, the same magnitude as Japan, and this figure is representative of other Eastern European countries inlcuded in the ONS figures.
France has one of the largest gaps among Western European countries, with a female-male difference in life expectancy at birth of 7.4 years while the United Kingdom has one of the lowest gender differences, with a gap of only 4.7 years.
Within what the ONS call the 'component countries of UK' in 2002, the gap was widest in Scotland at 5.4 years and smallest in both England and Wales at 4.5 years (see Table 2). Since 1980 all the UK component countries have experience a decrease in the sex gap in life expectancy
Page created on June 6th, 2005
Page updated on December 1st, 2009