• Women have an average life span of seven years older than men.
• Men are at higher risk of depression because they do not talk about their emotions
Popular culture may paint men as the stronger sex, but from the moment a boy is born, his life is more likely than his sister’s to be cut short.
Across national and cultural boundaries, men die an average of seven years earlier than women. In the book, Why Men Die First, Marianne Legato explains: ‘They’re genetically and biologically fragile to start with, and societal norms that encourage and even demand risky behaviour by men put them at risk’.
On average, women live longer than men. In fact, 57 per cent of people aged 65 and older are female. By age 85, 67 per cent are women. The average lifespan is about seven years longer for women than men in Kenya. There are many reasons why the ratio of men to women, which is roughly equal in young adulthood, starts to favour women over time.
Baby boys are one-and-a-half to two times more likely to die at birth than girls. A weaker immune system, a tendency for immature lung development, inadequate blood flow to male foetuses and high vulnerability to maternal stress have been cited. Brain haemorrhages, congenital malformations, pneumonia and urinary tract infections are all more common among male newborns.
In Kenya, men are more likely to die by suicide. One reason behind the high suicide rate among men is the high stigma about psychiatric disorders as well as mental healthcare use. So when men experience stress they are at higher risk of mental health problems such as depression than women, possibly because they do not talk about their emotions and they do not seek care.
Substance use is also more common among men than among women. According to a 2011 study, men were 2.2 times more likely to abuse drugs than women and 1.9 times more likely to have drug dependence.
Men far outnumber women in some of the riskiest occupations, including military combat, firefighting and working at construction sites. Men drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol more frequently than women and are responsible for four out of every five cases of driving under the influence of a drug or alcohol. Testosterone puts men at risk biologically and behaviorally. It increases aggressiveness and results in higher death rate from accidents and homicide.
Women systematically overestimate risk of any type, while men underestimate it. This pattern has been observed regardless of the context. These include examples ranging from crossing a road, smoking or a terrorist attack. Among pedestrians, males violate more rules than females. Male drivers are more likely to break the rules.
Managing partner Watermark Consultants