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Twentieth century surge of excess adult male mortality

  • Author(s): Beltrán-Sánchez, H
  • Finch, CE
  • Crimmins, EM
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2015, National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Using historical data from 1,763 birth cohorts from 1800 to 1935 in 13 developed countries, we show that what is now seen as normal - a large excess of female life expectancy in adulthood - is a demographic phenomenon that emerged among people born in the late 1800s. We show that excess adult male mortality is clearly rooted in specific age groups, 50-70, and that the sex asymmetry emerged in cohorts born after 1880 when male:female mortality ratios increased by as much as 50% from a baseline of about 1.1. Heart disease is the main condition associated with increased excess male mortality for those born after 1900. We further show that smoking-attributable deaths account for about 30% of excess male mortality at ages 50-70 for cohorts born in 1900-1935. However, after accounting for smoking, substantial excess male mortality at ages 50-70 remained, particularly from cardiovascular disease. The greater male vulnerability to cardiovascular conditions emerged with the reduction in infectious mortality and changes in health-related behaviors.

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