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Recent trends in sex mortality ratios for adults in developed countries


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  • Waldron, Ingrid
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    This paper analyzes changes in sex mortality ratios between 1979 and 1987 for adults in 23 developed countries. (A sex mortality ratio is the ratio of male to female death rates.) Previous analyses have shown that during the mid-twentieth century sex mortality ratios increased for all adult age groups. During the 1980s sex mortality ratios continued to increase for 25-34 year olds, but showed mixed trends for other adult age groups. For example, for older adults aged 55-64, sex mortality ratios increased in Southern and Eastern European countries and Japan, but sex mortality ratios decreased in Northern European and Anglophone countries. Trends in several causes of death contributed to these trends in sex mortality ratios. For example, for 25-34 year olds, increases in men's suicide rates and HIV or AIDS mortality contributed to the increases in sex mortality ratios. For older adults, it was hypothesized that decreasing sex differences in cigarette smoking in recent decades would result in decreasing sex differences in lung cancer and ischemic heart disease mortality during the 1980s. The predicted decrease in sex differences in lung cancer mortality was observed in many countries; women had more unfavorable lung cancer mortality trends than men in the Anglophone countries and Northern and Central Western European countries. In contrast, very little evidence was found for the predicted decrease in sex differences in ischemic heart disease. The paper presents additional data concerning the contributions of trends in specific causes of death to changes in sex mortality ratios and briefly reviews evidence concerning probable causes of the observed mortality trends. It appears that recent trends in sex mortality ratios have been influenced by changing sex differences in smoking and a variety of additional factors, such as the effects of improvements in health care interacting with inherent sex differences in vulnerability to ischemic heart disease.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 36 (1993)
    Issue (Month): 4 (February)
    Pages: 451-462

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:36:y:1993:i:4:p:451-462

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    Keywords: mortality trends sex mortality ratios sex differences gender differences;


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    Cited by:
    1. Hippu Salk Kristle Nathan, 2008. "Gender-based Indicators in Human Development: Correcting for ‘Missing Women’," Working Papers id:1760, eSocialSciences.
    2. Irma Elo & Greg L. Drevenstedt, 2005. "Cause-specific contributions to sex differences in adult mortality among whites and African Americans between 1960 and 1995," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(19), pages 485-520, November.
    3. Fred Pampel, 2005. "Forecasting sex differences in mortality in high income nations," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(18), pages 455-484, November.
    4. Klasen, Stephan, 2004. "Gender-Related Indicators of Well-Being," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. Klasen, Stephan & Wink, Claudia, 2001. "A Turning Point in Gender Bias in Mortality?," Discussion Papers in Economics 23, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    6. Kirill F. Andreev, 2000. "Sex differentials in survival in the Canadian population, 1921-1997," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 3(12), December.
    7. Hippu Salk Kristle Nathan, 2008. "Gender-based Indicators in Human Development - Correcting for ‘Missing Women’," Development Economics Working Papers 22355, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    8. Frank Trovato, 2005. "Narrowing Sex Differential in Life Expectancy in Canada and Austria: Comparative Analysis," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 3(1), pages 17-52.
    9. Laura Staetsky & Andrew Hinde, 2009. "Unusually small sex differentials in mortality of Israeli Jews: What does the structure of causes of death tell us?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 20(11), pages 209-252, March.
    10. Marc Luy & Paola Di Giulio, 2006. "The impact of health behaviors and life quality on gender differences in mortality," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2006-035, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    11. Fanny Janssen & Leo Wissen & Anton Kunst, 2013. "Including the Smoking Epidemic in Internationally Coherent Mortality Projections," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(4), pages 1341-1362, August.
    12. Cem Mete, 2005. "Predictors of elderly mortality:health status, socioeconomic characteristics and social determinants of health," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(2), pages 135-148.


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