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Popul Bull UN. 1988;(25):51-64.

Sex differentials in survivorship in the developing world: levels, regional patterns and demographic determinants.



This study analyses patterns of sex differentials in survivorship in less developed countries (LDCs) and compares the findings to the historical (1850s to present) experience of the more developed world (MDCs). On average, the sex differential in life expectancy at birth (SDLE) increases by about 1/5 of a year, in favor of females, for each 1 year improvement in life expectancy at birth. At current average levels of life expectancy in the LDCs (59 years), the SDLE is estimated to be 3.2 years. Even after controlling for differences in mortality level, strong regional variation exists in sex differentials. Within-continent variations in the Americas and Asia are mainly due to differences in female life expectancy. Within Africa, however, the variation in sex differentials is due to a combination of low female life expectancy and high male life expectancy. Within-continent variation is due to mortality differentials among all age groups. However, different age groups play greater or lesser roles within the different continents. At high mortality levels, SDLEs on average are smaller in the LDCs than those historically found in the MDCs, but by the later stage of the mortality transition, the SDLEs in LDCs are, on average, similar to those found in the MDCs. The widening of the female-male differential in life expectancy at birth does not appear to be a concomitant consequence of mortality decline, and may, in fact, prove to be a post 2nd World War phenomenon related to post-War changes in areas of personal behavior, societal modernization and economic structure. That women live longer than men is one of those few demographic facts known to lay persons and demographers alike. Only in a few countries, concentrated in South Asia and Northern Africa, do women, on average, die at earlier ages than men and in most of those countries this female disadvantage is minimal by the time of marriage and has disappeared by the end of the childbearing period. Size of female advantage in life expectancy varies among population and is systematically associated with geographical region and overall mortality levels and within societies to interrelationships with habits of culture and with modernization. Of less importance but also associated is genetic traits and ecology of the land. author's modified

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