While both sexes are expected to live longer in future, men’s life expectancy is growing faster than women’s. New figures from the Office For National Statistics show that, over the past 30 years, the average life expectancy for women has increased from 78 to 82.4. But men have added a whopping seven years to their allotted time, from 72 to 79. And the richest men can expect to live to 82.5, meaning that, for the first time, they will outlive an “average” woman.
The reasons for this are social rather than biological. With the decline of heavy industries such as mining, fewer men are doing dangerous or physically taxing jobs. They are also smoking less and (at least in the wealthier social classes) adopting healthy lifestyles.
Women, meanwhile, are worn out by juggling work and family commitments. We’ve been saying it for years, and now here’s the proof. In the sober analysis of the ONS: “Increases in women entering the labour force over the past 50 years are considered to have had an impact on levels of stress, smoking and drinking, leading to changes in the health of females.”
This doesn’t mean that women’s liberation was a bad idea, incidentally. Men suffer wear and tear from going to work, too, but no one’s suggesting they should be forced to stay at home for their own safety. And besides, it isn’t work per se that’s killing us: it’s the fact that we have to do everything else as well.
The headline is only partially meant to be tongue-in-cheek. This study surveyed British women, and maybe things are decidedly different over there. From a purely anecdotal perspective, I know of very few marriages here where the wife is disproportionately burdened with the domestic work. Even if it were so (which I am still maintaining it’s not), this dismisses the work men traditionally did around the house or, more accurately, outside the house. In this telling of the story the men seem to all be golfing or drinking beer on the couch.
The premise of this piece is essentially that women have moved into the 21st Century while men and our neanderthal attitudes are carousing in 1955.
Maybe, just maybe, this is really an endorsement about one parent staying home, regardless of which it is. That leads to a broader conversation about why that is almost impossible in places like the U.K or the United States. All right, it’s not that broad, it is really about tax burdens.
Somebody has to pay for all of that “free” government stuff, right?