Our Aging World: The Declining Sex Ratio

According to US census data, there are only 41 men alive for every 100 women after 85.

One of the best things you can do to make it past 100? Be female. It's common knowledge that having two X chromosomes as opposed to XY provides you with an inherent longevity bonus, according to statistical data. It's not established exactly why the ratio of men alive compared to women drops so significantly, but unfortunately the evidence speaks for itself. Just how much of the gap can be attributed to lifestyle choices remains to be seen.

 

Jiroemon Kimura, the oldest verified man in history, passed in 2012 at the age of 115 years. Source: Kyotango City Hall via Bloomberg

Jiroemon Kimura, the oldest verified man in history, passed in 2012 at the age of 115 years. Source: Kyotango City Hall via Bloomberg

There are men who break the trends, but they're comparatively few and far between. Research suggests this may be due to an increased vulnerability to cardiovascular disease but there's likely more to the story. Modern developments seem to have favoured women in the longevity department and they have reaped the benefits so far according to the data.

On a slightly more encouraging note for men, while fewer males make it into the centenarian ranks, if they do manage to - they tend to be healthier than their female counterparts according to research. Projections also suggest the gap may narrow, as we learn more about specific sex-tied vulnerabilities and develop ways to ameliorate them. 

The number of men alive for every 100 women in the past, today and in the future. 

The number of men alive for every 100 women in the past, today and in the future. 

Demographics have already changed significantly; the world has proportionally more older people alive than ever before, and this trend is set to increase massively (which will be covered in a later article). As fertility rates unanimously slow down in previously 'developing' countries ', the current youthful boom in Africa for example will most likely be a transient feature. This means that if a significant chunk of the world will soon be over 60 and many more of them will be female, there may be some interesting changes ahead, particularly in the fields of politics and economics. The effect of a large older population on society, the majority of which are women, could be profound.