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Questions raised over theory that women outlive men in new Danish study

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The long-held belief that women live longer than men has been thrown into doubt by a new study.

Men have a lower life expectancy than women, but according to academics in Denmark, men have a “substantial chance of outliving females”.

Life expectancies, which summarise the average length of life, are a “simplistic measure”, that is often interpreted as meaning that “men do not live as long as women”, the experts said.

In the England, the average life expectancy in 2018 to 2020 was estimated to be 79.3 for men and 83.1 for women, the Office of National Statistics said.

However the new study suggests that by simply looking at life expectancy, people do not account for variation around the averages and a “sizeable portion of males might live longer than a sizeable portion of females, even if the life expectancy shows a female advantage”.

it says a better way to measure lifespan was to look at at the differences across countries.

The study, published in the journal BMJ Open, looked at data on the lifespan of men and women in 199 countries across 200 years.

It concluded that men have a high probability of outliving women – especially those who are married and have a degree.

“Males who are married or have a university degree tend to outlive females who are unmarried or do not have a high school diploma,” the authors said.

They added that the probability of a man outliving a woman is between 25% and 50% and point out that large differences in life expectancy mask substantial overlap in lifespan.

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“A blind interpretation of life expectancy differences can sometimes lead to a distorted perception of the actual inequalities [in lifespan],” the authors wrote.

“Although male life expectancy is generally lower than female life expectancy, and male death rates are usually higher at all ages, males have a substantial chance of outliving females.

“These findings challenge the general impression that ‘men do not live as long as women’ and reveal a more nuanced inequality in lifespans between females and males.”

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