Why do Life Expectancies Differ for Men and Women?

It is a curious fact that life expectancies differ for men and women. In most developed nations, women outlive men by at least a few years. For example, in the United States, women outlive men by an average of at least five years. Interestingly, women even outlive men in the majority of underdeveloped countries. There are many theories regarding why this is true; they range from medical-related issues to simple stress factors.

Some people believe that the differences in the average life expectancies of women and men may result from the fact that men take more physical risks than women do. Around the world, men are more likely to fight in wars, and they often engage in physically risky behaviors at a higher rate. For example, they tend to drive their cars faster, consume more alcohol, and engage more often in illegal drug use. They are also more likely to be thrill seekers, attempting stunts that put their lives at risk.

Just looking at one age group can illustrate the differences in life expectancies well. For example, males aged 15 to 24 have a death rate that is four times that of females in the same age range. Some experts believe this is due to the onset of puberty and the bodily changes young adults face. Raging hormones nicknamed the testosterone storm, are said to be responsible for a high degree of recklessness during this period as well as violence that often leads to death.

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