It's long been suggested that women outlive the men in their lives, but new research suggests that may be an oversimplified conclusion. Danish scientists who looked at the bigger picture found that the guys, especially those with a ring on their finger or who hold a college degree, might have a better chance of living longer than their female counterparts than previously thought, reports the Guardian. For their analysis published in the BMJ Open journal, researchers made use of life tables from 1751 to 2020 for men and women from nearly 200 nations. They focused on measuring life span inequality, or the probability of males outliving females, using a gauge called the outsurvival statistic.
Per an accompanying BMJ Open blog post, that stat "measures the probability that a person from a population with a high death rate will outlive someone from a population with a low death rate." And the results? Researchers found that, from about 1850 onward, between 25% and 50% of men on multiple continents outlived their female contemporaries. Plus, married men seemed to live longer than unmarried women; the same held for men who graduated from college compared with women without a high school diploma.
Couples also influence each other's health, the study notes, particularly on the side of the men, "who benefit more than females from being in a stable relationship," the study notes. Basically, per the research: "Not all females outlive males, even if a majority do. But the minority that do not is not small." In short, the scientists say, "a blind interpretation of life expectancy differences can sometimes lead to a distorted perception of the actual inequalities [in life span]." The researchers note that understanding these nuances can help guide public health policy by targeting "diverse factors, causes, and ages," not just gender, to tackle life span inequalities and increase longevity. (Read more discoveries stories.)