Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NPR: Why Women Outlive Men From Conception to Centenarianism

According to an article from National Public Radio, the 19th century just lost its last living man. He was Jiroemon Kimura, of Kyotango, Japan, who was born in 1897, and was 116 when he died. According to the Guinness World Records, he was the last surviving male born in the 1800s. All the other boys from that century, as best we know, have passed on. The ladies, however, are still ticking. Misao Okawa of Osaka is now officially the oldest person on the planet. She was born in 1898. There are four others — two in Britain, one in the USA, and another in Japan — all 19th century-born, all female, all still alive.

Once again, the ladies have outlasted the gentlemen. Not that that's a big surprise. Women, on average, seem to take a little longer to die. But here's an interesting fact: Women, it turns out, don't just win in the end. It seems that women consistently outlive men in every age cohort. Fetal boys die more often than fetal girls. Baby boys die more often than baby girls. Little boys die more often than little girls. Teenage boys, 20-something boys, 30-something boys — in every age group, the rate of death for guys is higher than for women. The difference widens when we hit our 50s and 60s. Men gallop ahead into eternal rest, then the dying differential narrows, but death keeps favoring males right to the end.

So Death, it turns out, is not an equal opportunity avenger. It seems to consistently favor males. Why? What is it about maleness that brings Death knocking? Well you'll have to read the article linked above to learn more about the hypothesis of "male weakness".

In the meantime, Herkimer and Oneida Counties combined had 65 people who were 100 years or older according to the 2010 Census. Of those, less than one out of every five (18%) of our centenarians were men.