Gender Equality and the Global Gender Gap in Life Expectancy: An Exploratory Analysis of 152 Countries

Document Type : Short Communication


1 Department of Nursing and Physiotherapy, University of Lleida, Lleida, Spain

2 Public Health Research Group, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain

3 Unitat de Suport a la Recerca Terres de l´Ebre, Fundació Institut Universitari per a la recerca a l’Atenció Primària de Salut Jordi Gol i Gurina (IDIAPJGol), Tortosa, Spain

4 Unidat de Recerca, Gerència Territorial Terres de l´Ebre, Institut Catalá de la Salut, Tortosa, Spain

5 Facultat de Enfermería, Campus Terres de l´Ebre, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tortosa, Spain

6 Department of Health Psychology, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain

7 University Research Institute for Gender Studies, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain

8 Biomedical Research Networking Center for Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), Madrid, Spain

9 Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

10 Division of Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

11 Department of Community Health Sciences, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Kathmandu, Nepal

12 Southgate Institute for Health, Society & Equity, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia


When looking at life expectancy (LE) by sex, women live longer than men in all countries. Biological factors alone do not explain gender differences in LE, and examining structural differences may help illuminate other explanatory factors. The aim of this research is to analyse the influence of gender inequality on the gender gap in LE globally. We have carried out a regression analysis between the gender gap in relativised LE and the UN Gender Inequality Index (GII), with a sensitivity analysis conducted for its three dimensions, stratified by the six World Health Organization (WHO) regions. We adjusted the model by taking into consideration gross national income (GNI), democratic status and rural population. The results indicated a positive association for the European region (ß=0.184) and the Americas (ß=0.136) in our adjusted model. Conversely, for the African region, the relations between gender equality and the LE gender gap were found to be negative (ß=-0.125). The findings suggest that in the WHO European region and the Americas, greater gender equality leads to a narrowing of the gender LE gap, while it has a contrary relationship in Africa. We suggest that this could be because only higher scores in the GII between men and women show health benefits.


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Volume 11, Issue 6
June 2022
Pages 740-746
  • Receive Date: 29 September 2019
  • Revise Date: 28 September 2020
  • Accept Date: 29 September 2020
  • First Publish Date: 14 October 2020