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Over the course of her forty-two-year career, she fought the limitations of the glass ceiling, rising from reporter to publisher. AsPaxson knew she did not want to be a nurse or a teacher but was unsure of her career path until she took a high school journalism course. Her parents approved her decision but required that she first attend Rice University in Houston for two years, where she worked on the student newspaper, the Thresher.


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Women have worse self-rated health and more hospitalization episodes than men from early adolescence to late middle age, but are less likely to die at each age. We use 14 years of data from the U. National Health Interview Survey to examine this paradox.

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Gender Issues World and U. Population Trends. Gender differences in mortality and life expectancy vary by country.

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But in most countries, men live shorter lives than women see figure. In Russia, for instance, the difference between male and female life expectancy is 13 years 59 vs. In other countries, such as the United States, the male disadvantage is smaller: 5 years 75 vs.

Sex differences in morbidity and mortality

And in some countries, such as Afghanistan, there is little or no male disadvantage 42 vs. Factors that influence gender differences in mortality include biological factors such as hormonal influences on physiology and behavior, and environmental factors, such as cultural influences on gender differences in health behaviors.

The importance of specific factors may reflect the environmental context. How developed a country is can affect or shape the most important influences on gender differences in mortality. Risky male behavior may be fueled by biology and culture.

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But when looking at gender disparities in health and mortality, it can be hard to get at biological differences. Environmental factors such as unsafe water and inadequate nutrition increase the death rate due to infectious diseases for both sexes.

Women, however, face additional risks associated with childbirth. Maternal mortality is high in sub-Saharan Africa, and there are higher suicide rates for women than men in China. Another reason the gender gap in mortality is smaller in developing countries is because in many of these countries, women have much lower social status than men. Differences in what is expected of men and women and how they are taught to behave also contribute to variation in health-related behaviors.

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Also, in many cultures, women are not expected to work outside the home in the cash economy while men are expected to be part of the labor force. Because women are less likely to be part of the work force than men, they suffer less from the ravages of work.

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As a result, their health deteriorates less quickly. Low-paid or manual work seems to take a toll in terms of health.

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People in the bottom income group tend to have both worse health and more rapidly deteriorating health while they are working. Yet, while manual workers are typically less healthy on average, the differences among male and female workers in this occupational group are much smaller than differences across occupations. Changes over time can affect the gap in life expectancies.

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Later, in the United States, the mortality gap narrowed as women began to smoke more and men smoked less than before. The difference in male and female life expectancy has narrowed in recent years, from at least 7.

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National Center for Health Statistics. Changes in smoking patterns tend to affect men more than women, because more men have smoked and because smoking has elevated death rates more for men than for women. While women rate their health worse than men and visit the hospital more often than men from early adolescence to late middle age, they are less likely to die at each age.

This paradox can be explained at least in part by differences in the prevalence of chronic conditions men and women face.

Women experience higher rates of pain headache, arthritisand some respiratory conditions, including bronchitis, asthma, and lung problems not related to cancer. They are also much more likely to suffer from reproductive cancers, hypertension, vision problems, and depression.

Men are more likely to suffer from hearing loss; smoking-related ailments, such as emphysema and respiratory cancer; and circulatory problems including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. However, women and men with the same chronic conditions have the same self-rated health.

Yet men with respiratory cancer, cardiovascular disease, and bronchitis are more likely to die than women with these conditions. This implies that men may experience more severe forms of these conditions.

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Researchers have found that conditions associated with excess male hospitalizations and deaths tend to be smoking-related. Indeed, men with smoking-related conditions are ificantly more likely to die in two years than women with the same conditions. This may be the case, because typically, men are exposed to smoking for a longer time on average than women.

Sex differences in morbidity and mortality

Public campaigns have helped decrease deaths related to unhealthy behaviors, particularly those associated with male deaths. These efforts may well help narrow the male-female mortality gap in the United States. The year-old antismoking campaign has led to a drop in lung cancer death rates for men. And the efforts to reduce drunk driving have been effective, Waldron notes.

Pointing to public concerns about secondhand smoke and the efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to alert the public of the risks of drunk driving, Waldron says that the grassroots support made it easier to push through policy change.

Resource Library. Gender Disparities in Health and Mortality. Article Details Date November 9, How long one lives depends on gender and context, among other factors.