Saturday, July 02, 2005

Women think of themselves as being less healthy than men...but are less likely to die.

Demography. 2005 May;42(2):189-214.

Sex differences in morbidity and mortality.

Case A, Paxson C.

Center for Health and Wellbeing, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.

Women have worse self-rated health and more hospitalization episodes than men
from early adolescence to late middle age, but are less likely to die at each
age. We use 14 years of data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey to
examine this paradox. Our results indicate that the difference in self-assessed
health between women and men can be entirely explained by differences in the
distribution of the chronic conditions they face. This is not true, however, for
hospital episodes and mortality. Men with several smoking-related
conditions--including cardiovascular disease and certain lung disorders--are
more likely to experience hospital episodes and to die than women who suffer
from the same chronic conditions, implying that men may experience more-severe
forms of these conditions. While some of the difference in mortality can be
explained by differences in the distribution of chronic conditions, an equally
large share can be attributed to the larger adverse effects of these conditions
on male mortality. The greater effects of smoking-related conditions on men's
health may be due to their higher rates of smoking throughout their lives.

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