Why many men die before their women

There are many reasons why the ratio of men to women (which is roughly equal in young adulthood) starts to favor women over time. Among the most powerful factors?

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Men tend to take bigger risks.

Some of the reason seems to be “biological destiny.” The frontal lobe of the brain — the part that controls judgment and consideration of an action’s consequences — develops more slowly in boys and young men than in their female counterparts. This likely contributes to the fact that far more boys and men die in accidents or due to violence than girls and women. Examples include biking, driving drunk, and homicide. This tendency toward lack of judgment and consideration of consequences may also contribute to detrimental lifestyle decisions among young men, such as smoking or drinking to excess.


have more dangerous jobs.

Men far outnumber women in some of the riskiest occupations, including military combat, firefighting, and working at construction sites.
die of heart disease more often and at a younger age. In fact, men are 50% more likely than women to die of heart disease. The fact that men have lower estrogen levels than women may be part of the reason. But medical risks, such as poorly treated high blood pressure or unfavorable cholesterol levels, may contribute as well.


be larger than women.

Across many species, larger animals tend to die younger than smaller ones. Although the magnitude of this effect is uncertain in humans, it tends to work against male longevity.
commit suicide more often than women. This is true despite the fact that depression is considered more common among women and women make more (non-fatal) suicide attempts. Some attribute this to the tendency for men to avoid seeking care for depression and the cultural norms that discourage men from seeking help for mental illness.


be less socially connected.

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, people with fewer and weaker social connections (including men) tend to have higher death rates.
avoid doctors. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, men are far more likely to skip routine health screens and far less likely than women to have seen a doctor of any kind during the previous year.

Experts say that because men visit the doctor less often than women, they are more likely to die of serious ailments that have neither been detected nor treated.

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