Men’s life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past century due to advances in medicine, technology, and living standards. However, there are still differences in life expectancy between countries and demographic groups. On average, men tend to have shorter lifespans than women. Genetics, lifestyle factors, and gender-related risks all contribute to determining the age men live to.
What is the Average Life Expectancy for Men?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global life expectancy for men born in 2019 is approximately 69 years. However, there are significant variations by region:
|Region||Life Expectancy at Birth for Men|
|Eastern Mediterranean||67 years|
|South-East Asia||67 years|
|Western Pacific||74 years|
Life expectancy for men is highest in the Americas and Europe, where it averages 74 years. It is lowest in the Africa region at just 61 years. There are also differences within regions based on a country’s income level. Men in high-income countries live over 16 years longer on average than men in low-income countries.
Life Expectancy for Men in the United States
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average life expectancy at birth for American men is approximately 76 years. This places American men below countries like Switzerland and Australia in terms of longevity.
There are also racial disparities in male life expectancy in the US:
|Race||Life Expectancy at Birth|
On average, white men in America live to 76, while black men have a life expectancy of just 71 years. Hispanic men tend to outlive all other groups, reaching 79 years on average.
Why Do Women Tend to Live Longer Than Men?
Across nearly all countries and cultures, women have longer life expectancies compared to men. There are a number of reasons hypothesized for this gender gap:
- Biological differences: Women’s bodies tend to be better at recovering from disease and trauma. Female hormones may provide some protective effects.
- Lifestyle choices: Men tend to engage in riskier behaviors like smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, and not seeking preventative healthcare.
- Occupational hazards: Historically, men were more likely to work dangerous jobs like mining, construction, and firefighting.
- Leading causes of death: Men are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and accidents.
- Psychological resilience: Some research indicates women may be better able to cope with loss and trauma.
While genetics play a role, many of the factors influencing male longevity can be mitigated through improved healthcare access, health education, and safety regulations.
What Factors Influence Longevity in Men?
There are a number of socioeconomic, lifestyle, and medical factors that can impact how long men live:
1. National Income
As noted previously, men living in low-income countries tend to have significantly shorter lifespans. Poverty affects factors like nutrition, sanitation, access to healthcare, and exposure to violence. Improving economic conditions and public health resources in developing nations could increase male life expectancy.
2. Education Level
Men with higher levels of education tend to live longer on average. Education is linked to higher income as well as better health literacy and lifestyle choices. Making education accessible to all children and adults can improve outcomes.
Historically, males in certain occupations like construction, mining, firefighting, and the military have had shorter life expectancies due to job-related fatalities and exposures. Improved workplace safety measures have helped increase longevity.
Research shows married men tend to live longer than their unmarried peers. Having a spouse may improve health through encouragement of positive behaviors. It also provides social and emotional support.
5. Lifestyle Factors
Behaviors like smoking, excessive drinking, drug use, risky sexual activity, poor diet, and lack of exercise are linked to reduced lifespans in men. Access to preventative services and health education can help mitigate risky behaviors.
6. Mental Health
Conditions like depression and anxiety may negatively impact men’s quality of life and lead to self-destructive behaviors or suicide risk. Destigmatizing and treating mental illness could help men live longer, healthier lives.
7. Chronic Disease
Developing certain health conditions like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and respiratory disease at a younger age can severely reduce life expectancy. Men should get regular checkups and screenings to catch issues early.
8. Preventative Care
Data shows men are less likely than women to visit doctors, get health screenings, or have regular checkups. Lack of preventative care makes it more likely diseases will go undetected and untreated.
What is the Oldest Age Men Can Live To?
While most men pass away by age 80, living beyond 100 years is possible with longevity in genes and healthy lifestyles. The greatest number of centenarians (people over 100) documented are female, but men can reach extreme old age as well.
According to the Gerontology Research Group, the oldest male ever verified was Jiroemon Kimura of Japan, who lived to 116 years and 54 days before passing in 2013. The 10 oldest men ever have all lived past 110 years of age. France’s Jean-Luc Taffin currently holds the record for the world’s oldest living man at age 110.
While reaching such advanced years is extremely rare, the number of male centenarians worldwide has increased significantly as life expectancy rises. In the US alone, the number of men over 100 doubled between 1990 and 2010. Genetic and environmental factors play key roles in determining who lives past 100.
Genetics of Longevity
Scientists estimate genetics may account for about 25-30% of lifespan variation. Certain genes linked to cell repair, immune function, and disease response may promote longevity. For example, researchers have identified protective variants of the FOXO3 gene carried by many centenarians.
Long-lived families likely carry combinations of these protective genes that allow survival to extreme ages when lifestyle factors are favorable as well. However, even those with longevity genes need to maintain relatively healthy lives to avoid disease.
Lifestyle Factors for Longevity
Genetics alone cannot explain cases of men living past 110 years. Maintaining positive lifestyle habits throughout life is key to maximizing longevity:
- Not smoking and avoiding excess alcohol
- Eating a nutrient-dense diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Staying lean and exercising regularly
- Developing effective stress management techniques
- Getting adequate sleep and rest
- Having a strong social support network
- Staying mentally active and socially engaged
- Getting preventative care and screening when recommended
Following these healthy practices from a young age allows men to enter old age in better overall health and with a lower risk profile for age-related diseases.
What Can Be Done to Increase Male Life Expectancy?
While men are living longer on average than decades ago, there is still room for improvement to match or exceed female life expectancy. Some strategies that may help men live longer, healthier lives include:
- Providing universal access to healthcare and preventative screening
- Offering mental health support and suicide prevention services
- Reducing occupational hazards with safety regulations
- Discouraging tobacco and excessive alcohol use through public health campaigns
- Creating more health education and wellness programs targeting men
- Promoting social connectedness and community engagement for elderly men
- Funding research on diseases and conditions affecting men
- Increasing access to long-term care services tailored to male patients
- Advocating for policies and programs supporting male health across the lifespan
A comprehensive approach across medical, economic, social, and policy realms will be needed to understand and address the complex factors influencing male longevity. But increasing public awareness and improving access to health resources represent important first steps.
While women on average live longer than men, male life expectancy has increased significantly over the last century. Most men globally now live into their late 60s or early 70s, with longevity past 100 possible in rare cases. By adopting healthy lifestyles, controlling risk factors, getting preventative care, and benefiting from socioeconomic progress, men can aim to live long, productive, enjoyable lives. Further research and public health initiatives focused on the unique health needs of men will also help extend male life expectancy worldwide.