The Mechanism Underlying Change in the Sex Gap in Life Expectancy at Birth: An Extended Decomposition

Abstract

The relationship between differential mortality rates and differences in life expectancy is well understood, but how changing differential rates translate into changing differences in life expectancy has not been fully explained. To elucidate the mechanism involved, this study extends existing decomposition methods. The extended method decomposes change in the sex gap in life expectancy at birth into three components capturing the effects of the sex difference in mortality improvement (ρ-effect), life table deaths density by age (f-effect), and remaining life expectancy by age (e-effect). These three effects oppose and augment each other, depending on relative change in sex-differential mortality rates. The new method is applied to period data for 35 countries and cohort data for 25 countries. The results demonstrate how the mechanism, involving the three effects, operates to determine change in the sex difference in life expectancy. We observe the pivotal importance of the f-effect, which is predominantly negative because of lower female mortality, in favoring narrowing rather than widening of the sex gap, in shifting the overall effect to younger ages, and in exaggerating fluctuations due to crisis mortality. The new decomposition provides a more detailed basis for substantive analyses examining change in differences in life expectancy.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

References

  1. Andreev, E. (1982). Metod komponent v analize prodoljitelnosty zjizni [The method of components in the analysis of length of life]. Vestnik Statistiki, 9, 42–47.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Andreev, E., Shkolnikov, V. M., & Begun, A. (2002). Algorithm for decomposition of differences between aggregate demographic measures and its application to life expectancies, healthy life expectancies, parity-progression ratios and total fertility rates. Demographic Research, 7, 499–522. https://doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2002.7.14

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Ansart, S., Pelat, C., Boelle, P. Y., Carrat, F., Flahault, A., & Valleron, A. J. (2009). Mortality burden of the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic in Europe. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, 3, 99–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Beltrán-Sánchez, H., Finch, C. E., & Crimmins, E. M. (2015). Twentieth century surge of excess adult male mortality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, 8993–8998.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Booth, H. (2003). The changing dimensions of mortality. In S.-E. Khoo & P. McDonald (Eds.), The transformation of Australia’s population: 1970–2030 (pp. 104–128). Sydney, Australia: UNSW Press.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Booth, H., Tickle, L., & Zhao, J. (2016). Epidemiologic transition in Australia: The last hundred years. Canadian Studies in Population, 43, 23–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Canudas-Romo, V. (2003). Decomposition methods in demography. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Rozenberg Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Canudas-Romo, V., & Guillot, M. (2015). Truncated cross-sectional average length of life: A measure for comparing the mortality history of cohorts. Population Studies, 69, 147–159.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Canudas-Romo, V., Saikia, N., & Diamond-Smith, N. (2015). The contribution of age-specific mortality towards male and female life expectancy differentials in India and selected states, 1970–2013. Asia-Pacific Population Journal, 30(2), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.18356/8ec0129d-en

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Cui, Q. (2017). Extended decomposition of the changing sex difference in life expectancy at birth (Unpublished master’s thesis). School of Demography, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

  11. Dasgupta, P. (1993). Standardization and decomposition of rates: A user’s manual. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Glei, D. A., & Horiuchi, S. (2007). The narrowing sex differential in life expectancy in high-income populations: Effects of differences in the age pattern of mortality. Population Studies, 61, 141–159.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Graunt, J. (1939). Of the difference between the numbers of males, and females. In J. Graunt (Ed.), Natural and political observations made upon the bills of mortality (pp. 57–61). Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press. (Original work published 1662)

  14. Horiuchi, S., Wilmoth, J. R., & Pletcher, S. D. (2008). A decomposition method based on a model of continuous change. Demography, 45, 785–801.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Human Mortality Database (HMD). (2018). Human Mortality Database. University of California, Berkeley (USA), and Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Germany). Available from http://www.mortality.org

  16. Kim, Y. J., & Strobino, D. M. (1984). Decomposition of the difference between two rates with hierarchical factors. Demography, 21, 361–372.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Kitagawa, E. M. (1955). Components of a difference between two rates. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 50, 1168–1194.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Lindahl-Jacobsen, R., Hanson, H. A., Oksuzyan, A., Mineau, G. P., Christensen, K., & Smith, K. R. (2013). The male–female health-survival paradox and sex differences in cohort life expectancy in Utah, Denmark, and Sweden 1850–1910. Annals of Epidemiology, 23, 161–166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Lindahl-Jacobsen, R., Oeppen, J., Rizzi, S., Möller, S., Zarulli, V., Christensen, K., & Vaupel, J. W. (2016). Why did Danish women’s life expectancy stagnate? The influence of interwar generations’ smoking behaviour. European Journal of Epidemiology, 31, 1207–1211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Lopez, A. D. (1995). The lung cancer epidemic in developed countries. In A. D. Lopez, G. Caselli, & T. Valkonen (Eds.), Adult mortality in developed countries: From description to explanation (pp. 111–134). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Luy, M. (2003). Causes of male excess mortality: Insights from cloistered populations. Population and Development Review, 29, 647–676.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Nathanson, C. A. (1984). Sex differences in mortality. Annual Review of Sociology, 10, 191–213.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Preston, S., & Wang, H. (2006). Sex mortality differences in the United States: The role of cohort smoking patterns. Demography, 43, 631–646.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Stewart, J. (2011). Calculus: Concepts and contexts (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Trovato, F., & Lalu, N. (2007). From divergence to convergence: The sex differential in life expectancy in Canada, 1971–2000. Canadian Review of Sociology, 44, 101–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Væth, M., Skriver, M. V., & Støvring, H. (2018). The impact of proportional changes in age-specific mortality on life expectancy when mortality is a log-linear function of age. Demographic Research, 39, 671–683. https://doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2018.39.23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Vallin, J., & Meslé, F. (2001). Part one: Trends in mortality in Europe since 1950: Age-, sex- and causes-specific mortality. In J. Vallin, F. Meslé, & T. Valkonen (Eds.), Trends in mortality and differential mortality (pp. 31–184). Strasbourg, France: Council of Europe.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Vaupel, J. W. (1986). How change in age-specific mortality affects life expectancy. Population Studies, 40, 147–157.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Vaupel, J. W., & Canudas-Romo, V. (2003). Decomposing change in life expectancy: A bouquet of formulas in honor of Nathan Keyfitz’s 90th birthday. Demography, 40, 201–216.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Waldron, I. (1983). Sex differences in human mortality: The role of genetic factors. Social Science & Medicine, 17, 321–333.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Waldron, I. (1986). The contribution of smoking to sex differences in mortality. Public Health Reports, 101, 163–173.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Waldron, I. (1995). Contributions of biological and behavioural factors to changing sex differences in ischaemic heart disease mortality. In A. D. Lopez, G. Caselli, & T. Valkonen (Eds.), Adult mortality in developed countries (pp. 161–178). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Wilmoth, J. R., Andreev, K., Jdanov, D., Glei, D. A., Riffe, T., Boe, C., . . . Magali, B. (2017). Methods protocol for the Human Mortality Database [version 11/27/2017]. Berkeley, and Rostock, Germany: University of California, Berkeley, and Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. Available from http://mortality.org

  34. Wingard, D. L. (1982). The sex differential in mortality rates: Demographic and behavioral factors. American Journal of Epidemiology, 115, 205–216.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Wingard, D. L. (1984). The sex differential in morbidity, mortality, and lifestyle. Annual Review of Public Health, 5, 433–458.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Wrycza, T. F., & Baudisch, A. (2012). How life expectancy varies with perturbations in age-specific mortality. Demographic Research, 27, 365–376. https://doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2012.27.13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Zarulli, V., Barthold Jone, J. A., Oksuzyan, A., Lindahl-Jacobsen, R., Christensen, K., & Vaupel, J. W. (2018). Women live longer than men even during severe famines and epidemics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115, E832–E840.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Zhang, Z., & Vaupel, J. W. (2009, September). The narrowing sex differential in life expectancy: Mortality improvement and its efficiency. Paper presented at the XXVI IUSSP International Population Conference, Marrakech, Morocco.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Qi Cui.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

ESM 1

(PDF 1.97 mb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cui, Q., Canudas-Romo, V. & Booth, H. The Mechanism Underlying Change in the Sex Gap in Life Expectancy at Birth: An Extended Decomposition. Demography 56, 2307–2321 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-019-00832-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Sex gap
  • Life expectancy
  • Mechanism
  • Decomposition