Gender Differences in Healthy and Unhealthy Life Expectancy

Part of the International Handbooks of Population book series (IHOP, volume 9)


There is consistent evidence that women live longer than men at all ages, but spend a higher proportion of their total life expectancy in poorer health, a phenomenon described as the “male-female health-survival paradox” or the “gender paradox in health and mortality”. However, it is difficult to explain the process because morbidity by sex differs considerably across domains of health, age groups, social contexts and severity level. In addition, women and men report differently their health in surveys, making it cumbersome to understand whether what drives the paradox is a higher female morbidity or male mortality, a different reporting behaviour, or all of those aspects together. The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate the magnitude of those differences in Europe using different health domain indicators (activity limitation, chronic morbidity and self-perceived health) from the EHEMU Information System and the reporting behaviour by sex from the SHARE survey vignettes.



This work was supported by the European Research Council, within the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013), ERC Grant Agreement No. 262663 (HEMOX) and within the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020, ERC Grant Agreement No. 725187 (LETHE).

The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through FP5 (QLK6-CT-2001-00360), FP6 (SHARE-I3: RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE: CIT5-CT-2005-028857, SHARELIFE: CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and FP7 (SHARE-PREP: N°211909, SHARE-LEAP: N°227822, SHARE M4: N°261982). Additional funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research, the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01_AG09740-13S2, P01_AG005842, P01_AG08291, P30_AG12815, R21_AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG_BSR06-11, OGHA_04-064, HHSN271201300071C) and from various national funding sources is gratefully acknowledged (see


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, Vienna Institute of Demography/Austrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria

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