Why do women live longer than men?

J Human Stress. 1976 Jun;2(2):19-30. doi: 10.1080/0097840X.1976.9936063.


In the contemporary United States, males have 60 percent higher mortality than females. In Part I, published in the previous issue, we showed that 40 percent of this sex differential in mortality is due to a twofold elevation of arteriosclerotic heart disease among men. Major causes of higher rates of arteriosclerotic heart disease in men include greater cigarette smoking among men; probably a greater prevalence of the competitive, aggressive Coronary Prone Behavior Pattern among men; and possibly a protective role of female hormones. In addition, men have higher death rates for lung cancer and emphysema, primarily because more men smoke cigarettes. In Part II we analyze the other major causes of men's higher death rates: accidents, suicide, and cirrhosis of the liver. Each of these is related to behaviors which are encouraged or accepted more in men than in women in our society--for example, using guns, being adventurous and acting unafraid, working at hazardous jobs and drinking alcohol. We conclude with suggestions for reducing male mortality; for example, by changing the social conditions which foster in men the behaviors that elevate their mortality.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidents
  • Alcoholism / mortality
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Liver Cirrhosis / mortality
  • Longevity
  • Male
  • Mortality*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Sex Chromosome Aberrations / mortality
  • Sex Factors
  • Sick Role
  • Suicide
  • United States