From Divergence to Convergence in Sex Differentials in Adult Mortality in Developed Countries
Patrick Gerland, United Nations
The secular trend in diverging sex differentials in adult mortality in developed nations is re-examined based on the reversal experienced by most western countries in the last two decades. After reviewing the past levels and trends in life expectancy and the sex differentials among adults and elderly for 40 developed countries, this paper investigates the following issues: (a) which age groups are most responsible for the reduction in sex differentials in mortality, and (b) what factor explains the most the reversal in historical trends. Several hypotheses are explored to explain this reduction in sex differentials: (1) are women’s gains in life expectancy been slowing down or are men making faster progress in survival, (2) are there limits to diverging sex differentials and (3) are we converging toward a universal model of sex differentials.