Below is an edited version to Fiegl's article above based on treating women and men equally...
Gentlemen Last, but Catching Up
How long do you have? It depends on gender and geography. In the U.S., women live longer—81 years on average, 76 for men—but a recent study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reveals a promising trend. While women gained 2.7 years from 1989 to 2009, men are catching up, gaining 4.6 years.
In the late 1800s American men and women had about equal life expectancies of 40 to 48 years. During the 20th century reduced infant mortality, vaccines, improved job and transportation safety, public health programs, better and more secure food supply, and other quality of life and health care improvements increased the life expectancy of women and men dramatically. But these improvements benefited women far more than men topping out in the 1970s when women's life expectancy exceeding men's by 7.8 years (U.S. Census data). In the last three decades men, finally, are beginning to catch up, now only 5 years behind.
Geographic gaps have also widened; parts of the South are a full decade behind places like coastal California. Public health initiatives like smoking bans and more sidewalks have made a big difference.
"People are living to 86, on average, in some parts of the world. Why shouldn't Americans do the same?", says study co-author Ali Mokdad. Focusing on men's health to achieve the same lifespan as American women would get us about half way there. Addressing regional differences will get us even closer.