The fact that women live longer than men has long been ingrained in our thinking, but British statisticians claim life expectancy odds for men are about to change.
Professor Leslie Mayhew of the City University, London, estimates that male children born in 2000 will grow to live approximately a month over 87 if they make it past their 30th birthday. This is the same age predicted for their female classmates.
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The predictions only apply after men reach 30 years of age because statistics show baby boys are still more likely to die in the womb than baby girls. More young men also die from motor and sports-related accidents than young women.
An adviser to the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) predicts that even younger boys may outlive girls of the same age.
Professor Mayhew attributes the closing gap to men adopting healthier lifestyles.
"There has been a huge decline in the numbers working in heavy industry; far fewer males smoke than before and there is much better treatment for heart disease, which tends to affect more males than females," he told the UK’s Sunday Times.
The official ONS long term projections contradict Mayhew's findings, saying that a three-and-a-half year gap will still exist between men and women.
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Professor Mayhew, whose research covers only England and Wales, says the ONS predictions are overcautious, citing figures in other countries like Sweden, where a 30-year-old male's life expectancy will rival that of a woman's in only 12 years.
The most recent statistics provided by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveal that Australian women from birth will live to 83.5 years on average, which is still higher than a man's expected 78.7 years.
The AIHW reports that at the beginning of the 20th century, life expectancy for Australians at birth was 55 years for males and 59 years for females. Over the period 1901 to 2000, these figures increased by 21.4 years (76.4 years) for males and 23.3 years (82.3 years) for females.
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