Female-Male Relationship in Lifespan Variation

Serena Vigezzi, Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics, University of Southern Denmark
Virginia Zarulli, University of Padova, Department of Statistics
Jesús-Daniel Zazueta Borboa, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

Lifespan variation has gained increasing attention as a measure of heterogeneity in a population’s health. Studies have consistently found that on average females enjoy longer lifespans and experience less variation than males. Importantly, the sex gap in life expectancy followed changes in the epidemiological environment and lifestyle of a population, affecting specific ages differently. This might bear significant consequences for lifespan variation which is particularly sensitive to age-specific changes in mortality, however analyses on the long-term relationship between female and male lifespan variation are lacking. We address this gap by studying this relationship in several countries, with time series of up to 260 years. Using standard deviation as a measure of lifespan variation and segmented regressions, we find that this relationship has been strikingly stable even in the longest time series, undergoing significant changes no more than three times in the period of study. Decomposing the mortality changes before and after these breakpoints by age group, we uncover stable patterns in the age contributions to the changes in the female-male relationship. These results suggest that the female-male relationship in lifespan variation may be more stable than expected, possibly indicating a strong biological underlying mechanism.

Keywords: Mortality, Decomposition analysis/methods, Historical demography/methods

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 84. Longevity in Perspective