For more than 100 years, Canadian women have outlived men. But according to the recently released “Canada Pension Plan Mortality Study,” men are about to start catching up in a big way. Over the next 65 years, it’s predicted that while women will add five years to their life expectancy at birth, Canadian men will top that with an additional seven. Today, women live approximately five years longer than men, but by the year 2075, that gap will have narrowed to three years.
“Mortality rates have been going down for a century and a half now, but up to the 1980s progress has been greater for women than for men,” says Bertrand Desjardins, a researcher in the demography department at Université de Montréal. The reasons are easy to see: more men, for example, smoked than women. Men also had poorer diets and worked in less safe environments.
But according to Desjardins, that gap began to shrink in the 1980s as women’s lifestyles became increasingly similar to men’s—and men began living healthier lives. Men’s mortality rates due to car accidents have also decreased in recent years.
The study even suggests that the Canada Pension Plan itself might have something to do with narrowing the gap. At age 60, male CPP recipients with a maximum pension are likely to live three years longer than male recipients with a lower pension, the study found, while a two-year gain was observed for female beneficiaries.
Will men eventually catch up? It depends. Over the last 100 years, our life expectancy has seen a huge 30-year leap, with much of that gain coming from improvements in longevity among those ages 65 and over. But the study suggests that it’s going to get harder and harder to add years to our lives going forward.
“If mortality was to improve at the current rate observed over the last 15 years it would take 140 years before male life expectancy at birth would reach 100 years,” the study concluded. But there was good news for women: they could be living for a century in only 121 years.