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Visualising variation in mortality rates across the life course and by sex, USA and comparator states, 1933–2010
  1. Laura Vanderbloemen1,
  2. Danny Dorling2,
  3. Jonathan Minton3
  1. 1Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  3. 3School of Social and Political Sciences, College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Laura Vanderbloemen, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London, London W6 8RP, UK; laura.vanderbloemen{at}


Background Previous research showed that younger adult males in the USA have, since the 1950s, died at a faster rate than females of the same age. In this paper, we quantify this difference, and explore possible explanations for the differences at different ages and in different years.

Methods Using data from the Human Mortality Database (HMD), the number of additional male deaths per 10 000 female deaths was calculated for each year from 1933 to 2010, and for each year of age from 0 to 60 years, for the USA, and a number of other countries for comparison. The data were explored visually using shaded contour plots.

Results Gender differences in excess mortality have increased. Coming of age (between the ages of 15 and 25 years of age) is especially perilous for men relative to women now compared with the past in the USA; the visualisations highlight this change as important.

Conclusions Sex differences in mortality risks at various ages are not static. While women may today have an advantage when it comes to life expectancy, in the USA, this has greatly increased since the 1930s. Just as young adulthood for women has been made safer through safer antenatal and childbirth practices, changes in public policy can make the social environment safer for men.

  • Social and life-course epidemiology
  • Epidemiological methods

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