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The gender gap in mortality: How much is explained by behavior?

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  • Schünemann, Johannes
  • Strulik, Holger
  • Trimborn, Timo

Abstract

In developed countries, women are expected to live about 4–5 years longer than men. In this paper, we develop a novel approach to gauge the extent to which gender differences in longevity can be attributed to gender-specific preferences and health behavior. We set up a physiologically founded model of health deficit accumulation and calibrate it using recent insights from gerontology. From fitting life cycle health expenditure and life expectancy, we obtain estimates of the gender-specific preference parameters. We then perform the counterfactual experiment of endowing women with the preferences of men. In our benchmark scenario, this reduces the gender gap in life expectancy from 4.6 to 1.4 years. When we add gender-specific preferences for unhealthy consumption, the model can motivate up to 89 percent of the gender gap. Our theory offers also an economic explanation for why the gender gap declines with rising income.

Suggested Citation

  • Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2017. "The gender gap in mortality: How much is explained by behavior?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 79-90.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:79-90
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.04.002
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    Cited by:

    1. Ana Lucia Abeliansky & Holger Strulik, 2018. "How We Fall Apart: Similarities of Human Aging in 10 European Countries," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 55(1), pages 341-359, February.
    2. D. Dragone & H. Strulik, 2017. "Human Health and Aging over an Infinite Time Horizon," Working Papers wp1104, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    3. Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2019. "Anticipation of deteriorating health and information avoidance," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 365, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    4. Titus J Galama & Hans van Kippersluis, 2019. "A Theory of Socio-economic Disparities in Health over the Life Cycle," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(617), pages 338-374.
    5. Strulik, Holger, 2019. "An economic theory of depression and its impact on health behavior and longevity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 269-287.
    6. Lasse Lybecker Scheel-Hincke & Sören Möller & Rune Lindahl-Jacobsen & Bernard Jeune & Linda Juel Ahrenfeldt, 2020. "Cross-national comparison of sex differences in ADL and IADL in Europe: findings from SHARE," European Journal of Ageing, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 69-79, March.
    7. Strulik, Holger, 2018. "The return to education in terms of wealth and health," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 1-14.
    8. Johannes Schünemann & Holger Strulik & Timo Trimborn, 2021. "Optimal Demand for Medical and Long-Term Care," Economics Working Papers 2021-07, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    9. Strulik, Holger, 2018. "Smoking kills: An economic theory of addiction, health deficit accumulation, and longevity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1-12.
    10. Davide Dragone & Holger Strulik, 2018. "Negligible Senescence: An Economic Life Cycle Model for the Future," CESifo Working Paper Series 7246, CESifo.
    11. Johannes Schuenemann & Holger Strulik & Timo Trimborn, 2020. "The Marriage Gap: Optimal Aging and Death in Partnerships," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 36, pages 158-176, April.
    12. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Hansen, Casper Worm & Strulik, Holger, 2018. "Physiological Aging around the World and Economic Growth," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 375, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    13. Strulik, Holger & Werner, Katharina, 2021. "Time-inconsistent health behavior and its impact on aging and longevity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    14. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Hansen, Casper Worm & Strulik, Holger, 2020. "Fetal origins: A life cycle model of health and aging from conception to death," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 400, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    15. Abeliansky, Ana Lucia & Erel, Devin & Strulik, Holger, 2019. "Aging in the USA: Similarities and disparities across time and space," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 384, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    16. Igor Fedotenkov & Pavel Derkachev, 2019. "Gender longevity gap and socioeconomic indicators in developed countries," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 47(1), pages 127-144, December.
    17. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Casper Worm Hansen & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Accounting for Fetal Origins: Health Capital vs. Health Deficits," Discussion Papers 17-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    18. Strulik, Holger, 2019. "I shouldn’t eat this donut: Self-control, body weight, and health in a life cycle model," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 14(C).
    19. Konstantinos N. Zafeiris, 2020. "Gender differences in life expectancy at birth in Greece 1994–2017," Journal of Population Research, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 73-89, March.
    20. Dragone, Davide & Strulik, Holger, 2020. "Negligible senescence: An economic life cycle model for the future," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 264-285.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health; Aging; Longevity; Gender-specific preferences; Unhealthy behavior;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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