Women: Victims of Men's Shorter Life Span

According to the Alliance for Aging Research, older women in the United States are especially vulnerable to gaps in social services, and more likely than men to experience chronic health and financial problems at the end of life.

In a press release on April 28th, the Alliance announced the availability of its new report, One Final Gift: Humanizing the End of Life for Women in America. The report "identifies specific gaps in research and public policies that raise health, social, emotional and spiritual concerns that may confront women as they near the end of their lives."

The new report concludes that American women are more likely than men to be sicker, poorer, alone, and with greater care needs at the end of their lives.

The report doesn't mention it, but these things happen to women because men are more likely to have died.

It is typical of America in the 1990's that instead of seeing the fact that men's lives are ten per cent shorter than women's as something we might want to fix for men, our media presents it in terms of how it victimizes women.

The gap in average life expectancies between men and women is hardly an artifact of Nature. It has appeared only in the last hundred years, in response to improvements in medical science. In the latter half of the 19th century, improvements in medical knowledge drastically reduced the incidence of death during childbirth. By 1875, women were outliving men by about two years on average; by 1910 the gap had widened to almost seven years, where it has remained to this day.

We reduced the incidence of women dying in childbirth with medical technology. We could choose to do the same with men and heart disease. If we reduced the mortality rate of men due to heart disease to the same level as women (particularly in the age group 45-64 years, where it is two and one-half times higher), the gender gap in life expectancies would most likely disappear. But that won't happen so long as we view every issue through the eyes of women's advocates, who apparently see even the early deaths of men as a reason to increase funding for women's health programs.

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