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The gender gap in mortality: How much is explained by behavior?

Johannes Schünemann (), Holger Strulik () and Timo Trimborn ()

No 05/2016, ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy from Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON)

Abstract: In developed countries, women are expected to live about 4-5 years longer than men. In this paper we develop a novel approach in order to gauge to what extent gender differences in longevity can be attributed to gender-specific preferences and health behavior. For that purpose we set up a physiologically founded model of health deficit accumulation and calibrate it using recent insights from gerontology. From fitting life cycle health expenditure and life expectancy we obtain estimates of the gender-specific preference parameters. We then perform the counterfactual experiment of endowing women with the preferences of men. In our benchmark scenario this reduces the gender gap in life expectancy from 4.6 to 1.4 years. When we add gender-specific preferences for unhealthy consumption, the model can motivate up to 88 percent of the gender gap. Our theory offers also an economic explanation for why the gender gap declines with rising income.

Keywords: health; aging; longevity; gender-specific preferences; unhealthy behavior (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D91 J17 J26 I12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-age, nep-dem, nep-evo and nep-hea
Date: 2016
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (4) Track citations by RSS feed

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Journal Article: The gender gap in mortality: How much is explained by behavior? (2017) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:zbw:tuweco:052016

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