In Deaths of Young People, a Stark Gender Gap

New research finds nearly 2/3 of deaths worldwide in 2019 in 10-24 age group were boys, young men
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2021 1:50 PM CDT
Boys, Young Men Getting Short End of Mortality Stick
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Ranta Images)

A group of researchers examined long-term mortality trends among young people, and one finding especially sticks out. Per the study published Saturday in the Lancet journal, males are more likely than their female counterparts to die young, and in many nations, that gender gulf is only getting bigger. The research—which looked at mortality rates for individuals ages 10 to 24 from more than 200 countries and territories, stretching back to 1950—found that in 2019, 61% of all deaths within that age group were males. The research notes that, while there have been decreases in mortality rates in the 10-to-24 set for both males and females over the past 70 years, the former group has seen a 15% fall, while the latter has experienced a 30% decrease.

How boys and men die depends on where they're from, and how old they are. For instance, among boys ages 10 to 14, the most common cause of death was unintentional injury—except in high-income areas, where cancer was what felled them, and in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where boys that age died after consuming contaminated food or water. In older boys and young men up to age 24, the leading cause of death was transport injury in most regions, though in Latin America and the Caribbean, it was conflict and interpersonal violence. In central Asia and parts of Europe, the most common cause of death among teens and young men in that age group was self-harm.

The report suggests that boys and young men have been left behind by policymakers who've been striving to improve conditions for girls and women over the years, with not enough funding directed toward male-specific health risks, especially for teen boys. "High numbers of deaths in males indicate increases in the proportion of deaths due to violence, trauma, and substance misuse, which predominately affect young males," study co-author Joseph Ward of University College London's children's health institute tells the Guardian. The researchers add in the study: "Inequitable gender norms are ... damaging to adolescent males, and advancing the health of all adolescents requires action to reduce inequities in outcomes wherever they occur." (More discoveries stories.)

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