When it comes to disadvantage, being dead takes some beating. And when it comes to dying, men’s dominance remains unchallenged. I review the statistics here, but I start with a minor exception to the general rule of excess male deaths which receives a lot of attention.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) “Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences” indicates that in 2012/13 there were 76 deaths of women and 15 deaths of men attributable to partner violence in England & Wales.
To suggest that these are small figures would risk being thought callous. Of course, even if there were just one such death it would be appallingly tragic for the person concerned and his or her friends and relations. However, if the figures on deaths due to partner violence are being used to support a contention about society as a whole – and invariably they are quoted with such a purpose – then it is essential to put them in context. But this is rarely done. I do so here.
All data refer to England & Wales (E&W) unless stated otherwise.
Let’s start by looking at all deaths, taking data from the ONS Excel file Death Registration Summary Tables, 2013. It is well known that males have a shorter life expectancy than females. Based on 2010-12 data the life expectancy at birth for men and women is 79.11 and 82.93 years respectively, a difference of 3.82 years. What is less widely appreciated is that this is the result of an excess of male deaths at all ages up to 85. The data below are the numbers of deaths of males minus the number of deaths of females in each of the indicated age ranges. The last column gives this difference as a percentage of the number of female deaths.
|age range||deaths: males – females (2013)||as percentage|
|28 days to 1 year||120||32|
Male deaths exceed female deaths in every age range – until the over 85s when there are few men remaining and the excess women must eventually die. The remarkable thing about the above data is that the excess of male deaths is such a large percentage of the female deaths. This is most marked for young men in the age range 15 to 24 years for which this is 129%, i.e., there are substantially more than double the number of deaths of males than females in this age range.
Up to age 84, the total number of deaths of males exceeded that of females by 37,192 in 2013.
This is despite there being more females in the population. More male babies are born (in 2012 the data were 417,058 live male births and 395,912 live female births, an excess of 21,146 males). But despite that the greater attrition of males leads to there being about one million more females than males (27.8 million males and 28.8 million females), an excess of females over males of ~3.6%.
Why the Excess Male Deaths?
This is too big a question for me to attempt to address in full here. But what is clear is that it cannot simply be attributed to biology. That behaviours come into the explanation is obvious from the very marked excess, as a percentage, for young men. The various causes of deaths discussed below provide some of the multiplicity of reasons for the excess male deaths, some of which are certainly related to societal disadvantage or discrimination.
One issue can be exposed immediately: the excess deaths are related to socioeconomic class. The greater the educational or economic disadvantage of a subset of society, the greater is the excess of male deaths. Conversely, in areas of greater wealth men can locally exceed the life expectancy of women, effectively proving the contention that the general trend of poorer male life expectancy is the result of socioeconomic disadvantage.
The 2012/13 ONS “Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences” indicates that the number of homicides, excluding those attributed to partner violence noted above, were 365 male victims and 95 female victims (a ratio of >3.8). Including partner homicides the figures were 380 male victims and 171 female victims (a ratio of >2.2).
In England and Wales in 2012 there were 3,740 male suicides and 1,101 female suicides, i.e., 77% of suicides were male (see here for further commentary).
The ONS Excel file Death Registration Summary Tables, 2013 under the heading “intentional self-harm and event of undetermined intent” lists 4035 male deaths and 1123 female deaths (78% male).
Hence, suicide is an order of magnitude more common than homicide.
The number of suicides is at least 53 times greater than the number of partner homicides.
There has long been a belief that divorce or partnership dissolution is significantly implicated in excess deaths of men. Hard data to confirm or refute this belief is difficult to come by (but see the note added to the end of this Section). However, an article published in The Sunday Express on 4th January 2015 reports the results of a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act enquiry addressed to the Department for Work and Pensions. It read,
Data shows that parents who leave their children are almost three times more likely to die early. It was unearthed by Sunday Express staff who compared the number of Child Support Agency (CSA) cases closed after “nonresident” parents died with cases closed due to the death of the “parent with care”. The figures show that since June 2003, 8,515 non-resident parents have died compared to 3,090 residents. According to the information released under the FOI, 94.8 per cent of CSA cases involved a male nonresident parent.
Some deaths are bound to occur when dealing with very large numbers of people. But the significant feature is the excess of 5,425 deaths of non-resident parents over resident parents. To 95% accuracy, this means an excess of 5,425 deaths of fathers over mothers. This is 12 times greater than the number of UK forces deaths in Afghanistan (30 times that in Iraq). Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers4Justice, has commented that these figures demonstrate the lack of concern for the welfare of Britain’s fathers. He has called for a full scale inquiry into these figures to uncover the truth behind them. It is worth noting how small is the number of partner homicides in comparison.
Academic research is beginning to emerge on this issue. From the USA the paper The Influence of Divorce on Men’s Health by Daniel Felix and co-workers has shown that divorced men have mortality rates up to 250 percent higher than married men. The causes of premature death for divorced men include cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and partaking in risky activities such as abusing alcohol and drugs.
The researchers found that depression is also more common for divorced men than married men, and divorced men undergo psychiatric care 10 times more often than do married men. They found that divorced or separated men have a suicide rate that is 39 percent higher than that of married men.
Added 31/7/17: Since I wrote this article I have become aware of several sources of information on the effect of separation of male suicide – see here.
Sudden Infant Death (SID)
The ONS Excel file Death Registration Summary Tables, 2013 records 160 deaths due to SID (sometimes called ‘cot death’). Nearly twice as many male babies died from SID (102) than female babies (58).
In the previous year, the ONS Child Mortality Statistics, 2012 recorded a total of 131 deaths from SID. No one really knows what causes SID. But the latter source includes a very interesting breakdown of SID deaths into those pertaining to married women (31) and those for unmarried women (100). To adjust for the different numbers of married and unmarried women, these figures can be expressed as a percentage of the total number of infant deaths from all causes registered in 2012 for married and unmarried women respectively. 2.3% of married women’s infant deaths were due to SID, compared with 6.7% of unmarried women’s. Hence SID is nearly three times more common in infants of unmarried women than for married women.
But it gets worse. The data for unmarried women is also subdivided into those relating to “joint registration”, where the father is involved, and “sole registration”, where information about the father is not available. There were 23 cases of SID in the “sole registration” category, comprising 9.8% of all infant deaths to sole registrants. It would appear that SID is more than four times more common for sole registrants than for married women.
It is not the first time that this has been observed. Yarwood (2004) has the following observations to make regarding Sudden Infant Death,
In 2001, there were 231 SIDs in England and Wales. The rates of cot death vary with social class and marital status. In 2001, the rate was 1.28 per 1000 live births among children of single mothers, six times the rate of 0.2 per 1000 for babies of married couples. The rate for babies registered by unmarried parents living at different addresses was 0.71 per 1000 live births, over three times the rate for married couples. A report published in April 2004 by researchers from the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) suggested that as many as one in 10 of sudden infant deaths could be cases of murder or child neglect, amounting to 30 to 40 of ‘covert homicides’ of babies a year in Britain. The number of sudden baby deaths registered in Britain has steadily fallen in recent years. However, the researchers believed that the number of suspected ‘covert homicides’ has stayed about the same, although they admitted that “it is impossible to be certain of the exact figures.” The findings were based on the national “Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Death in Infancy 1993-1996″, a study of the outcome of some half million births.
The implication, of course, is that SID can hardly be due primarily to the intrinsic biology of the infant if it is so strongly correlated with the marital status of the mother. There would appear to be a dominant influence of the standard of care. In the extreme case the above FSID quote suggests that infanticide may be part of the explanation. This is a disconcerting conclusion given that nearly twice as many boy babies die of SID than girl babies.
Breast cf Prostate Cancers
In 2012 breast cancer caused the deaths of 10,292 women (E&W). In the same year 10,837 men died from prostate cancer. 919 women died from cervical cancer in the UK in 2012 (somewhat fewer in E&W). There are national screening programmes for breast cancer and cervical cancer but there is no national screening programme for prostate cancer, despite the fact that it kills a comparable number of people to breast cancer, and nearly 12 times as many people as cervical cancer. (You can get a PSA test done at your GP surgery on request, but you have to be pro-active). Contrary to popular belief, men can also get breast cancer. In 2011 there were 349 men diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK.
The total annual spend on the only three national cancer screening programmes are,
- Breast cancer £100M
- Cervical cancer £150M
- Bowel cancer (which affects both sexes) £100M
No male-specific cancers have a screening programme. As we will see, overall more men die of cancer than women.
Cervical cf Oropharyngeal Cancers
Cervical cancer is generally caused by infection with human papilloma virus (HPV). In the UK, girls aged 12/13 have been vaccinated against HPV routinely since 2008, mostly via a school-based programme. Boys are not vaccinated despite oropharyngeal cancer being almost as common in boys as cervical cancer is in girls, and being almost as strongly associated with HPV. Data from the USA in the histogram below demonstrates this.
It has been argued that, “it is only necessary to vaccinate girls because, once vaccination take-up exceeds 80%, ‘herd protection’ ensures that boys are automatically also protected against HPV infection“. This appalling rationalisation of flagrant gender bias would get short shrift if the gender roles were reversed. The suggestion that girls’ health care could be adequately addressed as a collateral consequence of that of boys would be met with such shrill cries of outrage any such policy would not survive a week (and, of course, would never be suggested). But this is typical of the disadvantage that can be imposed upon boys. There is no outcry, because males have no voice. And if anyone should succeed in drawing attention to issues like this, there is no downside to simply ignoring them – because there is no political capital in men’s rights. This is what disadvantage consists of. It is a matter of powerlessness. Males as a class are largely powerless, the exact opposite of feminist claims.
Statistics for all cancers in the UK are,
- Per 100,000 of the population, 426.5 males and 376.2 females were diagnosed with some form of cancer in 2011 (an excess of males by 13%).
- Per 100,000 of the population, 198.7 males and 146.6 females died from some form of cancer in 2012 (an excess of males by 35.5%).
- 8,313 more males died of cancer in 2012 than females.
A 2009 report compiled by Cancer Research UK and others is broadly in line with this source, indicating that men are 16 percent more likely to get cancer than women and 40 percent more likely to die from it.
You might imagine that in a report entitled Cancer and Health Inequalities: An Introduction to the Current Evidence the excess of male cancer deaths might figure large. It does not. All I could find explicitly about gender was the statement that, “most, but not all, of the substantial social inequalities in adult male mortality…were due to the effects of smoking“. Really? But that would affect only the incidence of cancer, not its fatality, surely? Whereas the above data indicates a substantially greater excess of male deaths from cancer than the excess of male cases of cancer. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve become very suspicious of all research which relates to gender, due to having identified so many cases of flagrant bias. The mind-set behind this report might be illustrated by the 7 photos it contains. They showed,
- a girl
- a crowd of women
- a woman
- three girls
- two women
- four women
- a person whose sex I could not decide
There were no (definite) pictures of men or boys – the majority victims of cancer.
So, I asked myself if indeed it is true that the excess of male deaths from cancer is primarily attributable to smoking. The 2009 Cancer Research UK report carried out the following investigation.
To find out if the excess of male deaths was due to cancers that predominantly affect only one sex, the researchers removed certain cancers from their equation – namely sex-specific cancers (such as prostate cancer, cervical cancer and breast cancer) and lung cancer (which affects 8,000 more men than women every year). The team found that when they looked at data from the remaining cancers the difference became even more striking. Men were 60 per cent more likely to get cancer than women, and 70 per cent more likely to die from it.
So, the excess male deaths is not merely due to smoking. The reason for the excess male cancer deaths is an open question. Perhaps it is an open question because there is insufficient motivation to find the answer. The opinion which is invariably trotted out at this point is that men do not take care of themselves, they have little regard for their own health care and will not go to see their doctor, etc, etc. This may be true or it may be merely another way of telling men that their disadvantage is their own fault. No one knows for sure, the objective evidence is scant.
Heart Attacks / Coronary Disease
Acute myocardial infarction (heart attacks) killed 13,534 men and 9,704 women in 2013, an excess of men of 40%.
There has been much talk recently about the introduction of a more sensitive troponin test. Research indicates that this test would double the number of women successfully diagnosed with the condition, but have little benefit for men. Use of the new test, which seems likely to be introduced in the NHS, would result in parity in the diagnosis rate for men and women presenting with a problem (at present women are underdiagnosed compared with men). Not to loose the opportunity for a spot of propaganda, on 21/1/15 Radio 4’s Today programme concluded a report on this issue with the false statement that “women are at greater risk of dying from a heart attack than men“. This may, at present, be correct if confined to those people who have already presented with heart attack symptoms, but it is certainly untrue for the population as a whole. Moreover, with the introduction of the new test we can expect the 40% excess of men dying from heart attacks to increase as the prospect for women, only, improves.
However, if all deaths due to diseases of the circulatory system are combined the difference between men and women is smaller, 70,336 deaths of men and 69,965 deaths of women.
There are substantially fewer deaths due to coronary disease now than there was at the start of the millennium, probably due to the deceasing popularity of smoking. Deaths from heart attacks have halved over this period.
For all the talk about HIV, it is not a big killer in the UK, causing the deaths of 159 men and 49 women in 2013.
The UK war deaths in Iraq were 173 men and 6 women (97% men).
The UK war deaths in Afghanistan were 450 men and 3 women (99.3% men).
10% of the British armed services are women, and 12.7% of the officers are women.
Twenty years ago there were typically in excess of 250 people killed at work annually. In recent years this has dropped to closer to 150 deaths at work per year. In 2013-14 the names of 171 people killed at work indicate that 19 of them were women, i.e., 11% women and 89% men.
Spending on Health Care
To quote Peter Lloyd (“Stand by Your Manhood”),
Between 2007 and 2012, NHS Primary Care Trusts in the London boroughs of Haringey, Hammersmith and Fulham, Brent, and Camden “spent £4,830,095 commissioning women’s services outside the NHS … and nothing on men’s.” It’s a trend that is visible nationally, with female care almost constantly ranked above that of men.
I hope I have now put the data on partner homicides into perspective. 37,192 more men than women die every year (2013 data).
If the death rate for women exceeded that for men by the extent that the death rate for men actually does exceed that for women, would there not be outrage? And if, in addition, the NHS consisted of 80% male employees, would not this outrage be all the greater? But 80% of NHS employees are women, so that’s OK.
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Great piece and thank you.
A terrific amount of work.
Can you put into a table, with male, female and % male?
and yet, 72% of UK taxes, funding NHS and publicly-funded research grants, are from men…
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