IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The changing gender differences in life expectancy in Korea 1970–2005

Listed author(s):
  • Yang, Seungmi
  • Khang, Young-Ho
  • Chun, Heeran
  • Harper, Sam
  • Lynch, John
Registered author(s):

    Women live much longer than men in Korea, with remarkable gains in life expectancy at birth for the past decades. The gender differential has steadily increased over time, reaching a peak of more than 8 years in 1980s, and decreased thereafter to 6.7 years in 2005. Studies to investigate the pattern and contributing factors to changes in the life expectancy gender gap have been mostly from Western countries, and there has been no such study in Asian countries, except in Japan. We therefore aimed to examine age- and cause-specific contributions to the changing gender differentials in life expectancy in Korea, in particular the decline of the gap, using a decomposition method. Between 1970 and 1979 when the gender gap in life expectancy widened, faster mortality decline among women in ages 20–44 explained 66% of the total increase in the gender gap, which would be due to substantial improvements in reproductive health among women and excess male mortality in occupational injuries and transport accidents. Although greater survival advantage among elderly women over 70 contributed to further increase in the gender gap, the contributions from younger ages with the ages 15–64 contributing the most (−2 years) resulted in the overall reduction of the gender gap which began in 1992 and continued to 2005. Among causes of death, liver diseases (−0.5 years, 38% of the total decline), transport accidents (−0.4 years, 31%), hypertensive diseases (−0.3 years, 19%), stroke (−0.1 years, 11%), and tuberculosis (−0.1 years) contributed the most to the overall 1.4 years reduction in the gender gap. However, changes in mortality from lung cancer (+0.3 years), suicide (+0.3 years), chronic lower respiratory diseases (+0.2 years), and ischemic heart diseases (+0.1 years) contributed to widening the gap during the same period. In sum, while smoking-related causes of death have contributed most to the narrowing gap in most other industrialized countries, these causes contributed toward increasing the gender gap in Korea. Instead, liver disease, hypertension-related diseases, and transport accidents were major contributing causes of death to the narrowing of gender differentials in life expectancy in Korea.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

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

    Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 7 ()
    Pages: 1280-1287

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:7:p:1280-1287
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.04.026
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Postal:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Chun, Heeran & Khang, Young-Ho & Kim, Il-Ho & Cho, Sung-Il, 2008. "Explaining gender differences in ill-health in South Korea: The roles of socio-structural, psychosocial, and behavioral factors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(6), pages 988-1001, September.
    2. Fred C. Pampel, 2002. "Cigarette Use and the Narrowing Sex Differential in Mortality," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(1), pages 77-104.
    3. Hiram Beltran-Sanchez & Samuel Preston & Vladimir Canudas-Romo, 2008. "An integrated approach to cause-of-death analysis: cause-deleted life tables and decompositions of life expectancy," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(35), pages 1323-1350, July.
    4. Eduardo Arriaga, 1984. "Measuring and explaining the change in life expectancies," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 21(1), pages 83-96, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:7:p:1280-1287. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.