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Life Expectancy of Men and Women

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

A group of us were having a discussion about the life expectancy of men and women. We felt that if women are supposed to live longer, then they should marry someone who is younger. Do you know what the actual life expectancy age difference is for women and men?


Getting Old

Dear Getting Old,

Life expectancy tables give average life expectancy depending on year of birth. For example, life expectancy for someone born 2009 is 80.0 for females and 74.88 for males, an age difference of about 5 years (Social Security Administration at, 2009).

However, life expectancy increases with age, and the male/female difference decreases. For example, someone who is 60 years old in 2009, a female's life expectancy is 83.34 and a male's is 80.01, a difference of about 3 years. But, someone who is 100 in 2009 has a life expectancy of 102.36 if female and 102.02 if male, a difference of 0.34.

Remember, these are just estimates. For example, a 50-year-old female or male could have a life expectancy of over 100, depending on other factors that affect life expectancy such as diet, exercise, family history, eating habits, and stress.

There is a fun online life expectancy calculator that gives your virtual age and life expectancy based on lifestyle and family history factors.