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Call it the ‘m Factor’, Call it Maleness, Call it What you Like—but from Infancy Onwards, in Every Age Group, Males are more Likely to Die than Females.


In recent years, increasing attention has been focused on men’s health, mainly because it became evident that the average male’s lifestyle was slowly killing him. As doctors we are beginning to understand that a great proportion of male ill-health is related to behavioural and social factors.

An important statistic is the constant discrepancy in average life expectancy (ALE) between the sexes. At present in Australia, the ALE is 80.7 years for males born in 2016–2018 compared with 84.9 years for females.2

This discrepancy has been evident for as long as Australia has had reliable records. In 1900 the ALE for males was 55.2 years and 58.8 for females.3 This increased to a difference of 6 years for most of the past century. However, the significant increase in ALE for both sexes has been encouraging; every four years of the past century saw around a one-year gain in ALE.

Men have a significantly greater incidence of medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, alcoholism, HIV and hypertension, as well as having higher rates of accidental death and suicide. The following comparative statistics for Australian society highlight this difference.


  • 1,2,4Up to 14 years, boys are at least twice as likely as girls to die from accidental injury (e.g. motor vehicle accidents [MVAs] and drowning).

  • In the 15–24 years age group, males are three times more likely to die in MVAs and three times more likely to commit suicide. The overall death rate is 3.65 times higher than for females.

  • In the 25–65 age group, males are four times more likely to die from coronary artery disease, three times more likely to die in MVAs, three times more likely to commit suicide, four times more likely to die in other accidents and twice as likely to die from cancer. The overall death rate is two times that of females.

  • The figures are worse in the lower socioeconomic groups. Low-income males are nearly three times more likely to state that their overall health is poor compared to men with higher incomes.

  • About 2 in 3 adult males and 1 in 4 older boys are overweight or obese.

  • Roughly 1 in 4 men have a disability and almost 1 in 3 have a chronic health problem.

  • Only 1 in 4 men ≥65 years get sufficient physical activity.

  • An estimated 1 in 2 men (54%) have experienced sexual difficulty in the past 12 months.

  • At least 4 out of 5 heroin overdose deaths occur in males.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males’ life expectancy is 9 years less (71.6 years) than that of non-Indigenous males.5...

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