Sex differences in mortality

Published on October 1, 2007 Reviewed on November 5, 2015   41 min

Other Talks in the Category: Biochemistry

Hello, I'm Daniel Kruger and I'll be narrating this presentation on how sex differences in mortality patterns can be understood with evolutionary theory and knowledge of relevant social and environmental conditions. This presentation is based on collaborative research projects with Professor Randolph Nussey, who is also at the University of Michigan.
Many people are aware that on average, women outlive men. The discrepancy between male and female mortality rates has been recognized since at least the mid 18th century. However, fewer are aware of the magnitude of this difference. Let's review some basic statistics. Over 300,000 men under the age of 80 would not have died in the United States in 1998 if male mortality rates had been the same as those for women. That's almost 40 percent of all male deaths before the age of 80. But those under age 50, the odds of a man dying were 84 percent higher than those for women. If this isn't enough of a cause for concern, the economic costs of excess male mortality are substantial. We estimate that excess male deaths in one year will eventually cost USD $208 billion in lost workforce productivity alone. This is almost 4 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States.
Hopefully, you are now convinced of the importance of the subject and are eager to learn more about sex differences in mortality. Thus, I will outline what will be covered in the rest of the talk. The first section will give a brief overview of evolutionary biology related to sexual reproduction and show the connection between evolutionary theory in mortality patterns. The second section will provide a detailed description of sex differences in mortality in the contemporary United States. The third section will expand the scope to other nations, all recent historical changes in sex differences in mortality, and provide some comparative data to reflect conditions during our evolutionary history. In the fourth section, we'll test hypotheses derived from our evolutionary framework for explaining sex differences in mortality. We will compare mortality patterns across groups in the contemporary United States, compare mortality rates across contemporary societies, and finally, all the fluctuations in mortality patterns when social conditions that are relevant to our explanatory framework undergo a change. We'll end with a brief summary of the material covered and conclusions based on these results.