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How paradoxical is the gender-and-health-paradox?

5th May 2016 3pm, University of Southampton, Building 58, room 1003 (L/R B)

Marc Luy, Vienna Institute of Demography

From the 1960s to the 1980s a common wisdom about differences between males and females in health and mortality emerged which was summarized by the well-known phrase "women get sicker, but men die quicker". Recently this wisdom has been increasingly questioned. Nevertheless, the general idea of a paradoxical relationship between health and mortality among women and men persists until today. The presented research aims at advancing the understanding of the paradox by demonstrating that the reverse relationship between sex on the one side and health and mortality on the other is not as paradoxical as it seems. Two factors are mainly responsible for causing this intuitive contradiction. First, the overall reversal in sex morbidity and sex mortality differentials occurs because several conditions that figure importantly in morbidity are not very important in mortality, and vice versa. Second, longevity is directly related to the absolute number of life years in ill health. Thus, women suffer from worse health than men do not in spite of living longer, but because they live longer. The second aspect has not been connected with the gender-and-health-paradox so far and combines this phenomenon with the ongoing "compression versus expansion of morbidity" debate.