Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Life expectancy was the same for both genders in 1900 (in Europe at least).

We’ve just made continually more progress for women than for men. Nowadays for example: lots of research on female cancer (twice more funding than male cancers, for the same incidence and mortality) and domestic violence, little budgets on suicide. Lots of money for equality at work where women are fewer, little money for boys massively dropping at school. Practically no help if you are a man facing a male-specific issue, which is why a lot of them engage in the army or in Daesh (depending which side they tilt towards), and practically all killers you know are boys victims of harassment, absent father syndrome and on the spectrum of autism, with no help from the social fabric.

Men live shorter not because it is nature, but because we’ve made less progress for them.

Please don't take HN threads into gender flamewar. Last thing we need here.


You are driving a thesis here but using only data which supports that thesis. There are many other reasons why, at least in the culture I'm familiar with (the USA) men have tended to live shorter. These are all stated in past tense, though many are still true today:

- men smoked at higher rates than women

- men were more likely to drink heavily

- men were more likely to engage in dangerous work (construction vs nursing)

- men were more likely to drive aggressively and/or drive motorcycles

- men were far more likely to say "watch this!" and do something like, oh, jumping off the roof of a house an into a pool

Lets take this from a perspective of stress. Stress is highly correlated with life length, with those who has good stress management having longer lifer. What is good stress management? Among other things good social support. Bad stress management is things like substance abuse.

So why do men have worse social support than women? First we can look at is how society reward men who focus their time on social networking compared to a focus on career and higher income. On average, how do society react if a man choose a high social job such as nursing vs a high income job such as construction, and then compare that average for women.

The second thing we can look at is a more obvious one. On average men are more likely to be childless than women. It should surprise no one that having one or more children does increase the probability of a social support network at old age.

The third thing is suicide which is the single largest cause of death for men until age of 65 (if I remember right). Suicide is highly correlated with untreated depression, a illness where it is well know that men is in the receive end of discrimination. Very few culture has any tolerance for men with mental illness, and this again is correlated to social support and in the long run stress management. Men with mental illness run higher risk of handling it alone compared to women.

It should be noted here that for the age groups where "drive aggressively and/or drive motorcycles" is relevant, suicide is still more common cause of death. I will also include the age groups of people who say "watch this".

Exploration vs exploitation at work. Teenage men are way more biased towards exploration, whether it's good or bad. Sometimes some of them figure out something great that improves civilization. Without that risk taking we all would be dead or in zombie mode.

There are some interesting challenges to your premise, even though some of it very clearly plays a role in the gap.

There is a six year gap (81 vs 87 as of 2018-2019) between men and women in Japan. Arguably none of that gap is properly explained by the issues you've raised. The Japanese are the healthiest, longest living people of any large cohort on the planet and yet the gap persists.

Further, roughly twice as many girls (50.5%) born in 2019 in Japan will live to 90 as boys (26.5%).

None of that is explained by things like rates of cancer (low in Japan), school drop-out rates, domestic violence, murder rates, prison, crime, work equality, army / Daesh matters, or suicide rates. Japan's male suicide rate for example is below that of the US, Finland and only a few points above France.

Yet the life expectancy gap between men and women is smaller in the US than in Japan, which makes little sense if your raised issues were the leading cause agents.

There’s a theory that longevity is lower in men because they need to be stronger in order to survive in a conflict. It’s a trade off. Physical strength is the result of growth, but some of the same pathways for increased growth are also theorized to be the root cause of aging. Note that this is independent of strength training; it’s the ability to get stronger, rather than actually getting stronger (among other related characteristics), that may affect longevity. Your intuition that accidental death and smoking do not explain the entirety of the gender gap in longevity is spot on. It’s not all bad news for men though. If you manage to avoid obesity and diabetes, your increased strength and bone density may impart greater quality of life in old age, and that may be worth the 3 lost years at the end of life. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3034172/

The big killer among modern elderly people is the massive muscle wasting that accompanies most inpatient hospital procedures. Having a solid foundation of muscle can insulate a person from the dreaded point of no return after which it would be impossible to build one's body back after a procedure.

Even without being bedridden for days after an inpatient procedure, we have an epidemic of frailty among elderly people. This commonly causes serious falls and fractures, and after an incident like that most people fall into a rapid downward spiral. As a matter of public health policy we should be prescribing weight training and higher protein diets for elderly people.

More muscles are correlated with lower incidence of cancer (and inflammation), so that goes against strength preference being a reason of aging.

Scientists are finding that aging is a discrete disease that catalyzes other secondary diseases, like cancer and dementia. They are also finding that it is highly likely that men’s cellular aging is slightly accelerated compared to women, albeit with the trade off described above. The anti-inflammatory benefits of muscle are overwhelmed by the avalanche of diseases caused by aging. If you’re 80 years old and you use drugs to stave off one disease, you’re likely to die from another disease soon thereafter. It’s like playing wack-a-mole, because we’re not addressing the primary disease: aging. That may change soon since more research is being done into aging as a disease.

> None of that is explained by things like rates of cancer (low in Japan),

??? Not for Stomach cancer or CRC.

CRC: High in Japan vs most other countries, and significantly more prevalent with men: https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/cancer-trends/colorectal-...

Stomach: https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/cancer-trends/stomach-can... men get is almost 3x more than women in Japan and Japan is the top 3 worldwide in incidence.

And overall death rates by cancer for men in Japan are quite a lot higher than for females: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4929724/figure/...

For suicides in Japan it's predominantly men who commit suicide, with a ratio of 2.53 vs female: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_r...

Before making blanket statements you may want to check the data...

The Japan difference for life expectancy could just be because Japanese men work themselves to death more often than not. Women do as well, but there's also lots of pressure to get them out of the workforce.

>Life expectancy was the same for both genders in 1900 (in Europe at least).

Probably because other factors that would kill early both men and women much sooner dominated. Like trying to measure the performance of a program when the disk is too slow and ending up measuring the disk...

This seems like it could be true, but is against my intuition. It could be that in 1900 things that killed people killed them before brain activity was significant to have an effect. But as health results improved, brain activity ended up being a bigger factor on when someone died because they weren't busy dying from typhoid 25 years prior.

I'm personally of the hypothesis that in most cultures men undertake activities that end up killing them earlier in aggregate than women.

Do you have a citation for the formerly same life expectancy in men and women. I cannot find any.

According to the UK government [1] there's been a gap back to at least the 1850s, which was growing worse until 1970, and has since been getting better, but remains considerably higher than in 1850.

1: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsde...

Historically women likely had to deal with high death in child birth rates.

Sad facts.


Please don't take HN threads further into gender flamewar. Last thing we need here.


Raise men as girls? What good parent doesnt try and raise there sons do have care and empathy and to be reasonable? Are there any positive traits that you think men possess? You are only taking the negative side of mens tendency for risk taking. Willingness to take risks has many positive benefits like getting to the top management spots you mentioned.

A few points:

- Here's a recent example[1] of a father who doesn't seem to raise his sons with empathy and reason as his core value. He explicitly state that this is in opposition of "raising boys like girls"[2]. It's an over-the-top example, but of course every time an adult encourage a boy to bottle up his emotions, to be stronger than the other boys, to go and force-kiss a little girl, etc. they reinforce this construct a bit.

[1] https://twitter.com/aubrey_huff/status/1199200986658553857 [2] https://twitter.com/aubrey_huff/status/1200543836700889090

- Women contribute vastly more than men to the fundamental care that keep society going via mostly invisible, unpaid but constant and demanding work (see the documentary "Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics" for an accessible intro to that [3]. Example are child rearing, elderly care, domestic chores, generally taking care of social organizing... Men mostly opt out of this work, and we should not let them. We should teach boys to take an active part in this. That's another way to raise boys as girls.

[3] https://www.onf.ca/film/whos_counting/

- Are you sure that dangerous behaviors like drunk driving or bar fights are a necessary component of learning how to become a brilliant top manager? I have my doubts. In any case, it's a cultural decision: do we continue to encourage young men to be reckless and let them die more often than women of violent death, because being reckless will also help them steal all the good spots? If this kind of risk taking is so beneficial, do we encourage girls to be reckless too? Or do we encourage a more peaceful culture for boys?

(Anyway, your point about risk taking is conflating different kind of risks. Launching a startup or managing a big co has nothing to do with jumping off of a bridge because your friends dare you to do it.)

- Do I find some traditionally male traits desirable? Yes, a few of the less toxic. I think girls should be raised and socially accepted to be much less self-diminishing. To easily talk in public with confidence. To recognize their own physical force as it is and not less. To assert their own desires and to not default to fulfill the desires of their partners as a priority.

So I'm one of these persons who think that erasing the gender lines as much as possible would be beneficial for our societies :-)

Im not sure what your first point is attempting to accomplish. I said good parents and you are always going to be able to find one off exceptions and people who have seemingly wonky ideas about child rearing. A good parent on average will try and instill those good characteristics you mentioned in all their children whether boys or girls.

If your trying to say that the home care that more traditional or conservative women engage in is fundamental to society than I agree. So why do you want to push women to less fundamental roles in society?

You seem to only few attributes that are traditionally ascribed to men in a negative light. I dont think that bar fights or any other negative activity are necessary that is why men should use their natural tendencies in a good and productive manner as well as should women.

All of the 'positive' traits that you listed have an underlying negative connotation. Assert their own desires, Easily talk in public are not fundamental traits. Im not sure what you mean by 'use their own physical force'. It looks like you view men as mostly toxic.

So you think that men and women should be as indistinguishable from one another as possible? I am one of those people who celebrate diversity by realizing that the differences among genders and cultures ect.. are what makes life interesting.

By erasing gender lines you seem to mean erasing men and making them women. Wouldn't it be healthier for both genders to express their natural attributes in a positive way?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact