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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. repec:spr:demogr:v:55:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0641-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    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. repec:eee:joecag:v:12:y:2018:i:c:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Davide Dragone & Holger Strulik, 2018. "Negligible Senescence: An Economic Life Cycle Model for the Future," CESifo Working Paper Series 7246, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2017. "The marriage gap: Optimal aging and death in partnerships," ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 04/2017, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON).
    8. 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).
    9. 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.
    10. Strulik, Holger, 2018. "I shouldn't eat this donut: Self-control, body weight, and health in a life cycle model," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 360, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    11. Strulik, Holger, 2018. "An economic heory of depression and its impact on health behavior and longevity," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 337, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    12. Fedotenkov, Igor & Derkachev, Pavel, 2017. "Gender longevity gap and socioeconomic indicators in developed countries," MPRA Paper 83215, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health; Aging; Longevity; Gender-specific preferences; Unhealthy behavior;

    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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