We’ve all randomly heard that women live longer than men and a countless number of us have witnessed it in our surroundings. I always noticed my old neighbourhood uncles kicking the bucket a lot before their wives but then I kept thinking that it’s because in the typical Indian arranged marriage set up the men are older to women. But then the aunties would presumably reach the same age as when the uncles were last with us and they’d outlive that dreaded age by many years without any difficulty. That’s when I was convinced that women do live longer than men, but that’s not just a general social observation we make, there are hundreds of studies and different theories backing up this rather unequal fact of life.
Let’s get this straight by first stating the basic assumption: The men and women subject to comparison are of the same age.
While there are quite a few theories and explanations to back this fact, I’m stating a few prominent ones:
- Greater risk theory: This is solely based on a traditional view of lifestyle of both sexes in the society. Men in earlier times were subjected to more life threatening risks such as war or accidents during physical work etc. However, I wouldn’t agree to it because more women than you’d have imagined died of childbirth. So this theory doesn’t hold value today where both sexes have advanced medical aid and don’t follow traditionally imposed gender roles necessarily.
- Powerful immune system: Some studies have claimed that women are inherently born with a way more powerful immune system than men that protects them from diseases in their old age, something men are not particularly privileged with.
- High testosterone levels: A part of it is something along the lines of the greater risk theory but makes a lot more sense since it’s scientific. Apparently high testosterone is deeply associated with men being bigger risk takers or more aggressive during their youth and it’s also associated with heart diseases and prostate cancer among older men. This is further proved in case of Castration where the men tend to have similar life expectancies as women.
- Nurturing responsibilities: A few scholars and experts believe that because women have the ability to reproduce, they’ve naturally evolved to nurture the future generations and have a greater life expectancy for the same purpose and though men have the ability to nurture too and even have equal genetic contribution, women have a greater direct psychological input according to these set of experts.