(Note from Vicki. This article is from the “On Wisconsin” University of Wisconsin Madison Alumni Magazine Winter 2015. My husband and I are blessed with receiving the worldwide research and news from his University, and the Illini Alumni Magazine from my University of Illinois. I went to the Urbana- Champaign campus for a Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Sciences with an Anthropology Major and a History Minor; as well as a Masters in Library Science. That, and wanting to grow up to be a detective, writer, or helping people in some way, has led me to the unavoidable role of Genealogical sleuth, teacher, and Blogger. This kind of demographic study is just plain thrilling for me to learn about. It might help you in putting together clues as you search your ancestors. Who knew?)
It’s a generally assumed truth that women live longer than men. According to a demographic study by UW researcher Hiram Beltran-Sanchez, that phenomenon developed in the last one hundred years.
Beltran-Sanchez – who left the UW for UCLA this fall- examined roughly two centuries’ worth of mortality data from thirteen nations across North America and Europe. he looked at death rates for those who had reached at least forty years of age – thus excluding fatalities due to childhood disease or the complications of childbirth, common causes of death that have been greatly reduced by modern medicine. He found that both men and women born in the early 1800s had about the same life expectancy. But in the twentieth century, males were two to three times as likely to die in their fifties and sixties than females. “About 40 percent of that difference is due to cardiovascular disease and stroke,” says Beltan-Sanchez. “This seems to be due largely to higher rates of smoking among men and diet. Men seem to eat more saturated fats.”