Aims: In recent decades, smoking-related mortality has declined among men and increased among women in Sweden. We estimate the contribution of smoking-related deaths to the narrowing of the gender gap in life expectancy in Sweden between 1997 and 2016. Methods: We extracted population data on deaths and population under risk on the entire Swedish population aged 25 years and over for the period 1997-2016. Smoking-related mortality was assessed using an indirect method based on lung cancer mortality. We then estimated the contribution of smoking to the gender gap in life expectancy by comparing the observed life expectancies to life expectancies excluding smoking-related deaths. Results: The gender gap in life expectancy was 5.0 years in 1997 and 3.4 years in 2016. The gender gap narrowed by 1.6 years, of which 0.6 years were attributable to smoking-related deaths. Conclusions: The combination of decreasing smoking-related mortality among men and increasing smoking-related mortality among women in Sweden accounted for almost 40% of the narrowing of the gender gap in life expectancy during the period 1997-2016.
Keywords: gender difference; life expectancy; mortality; register data; smoking.