Retirement – The Gender Longevity Gap, and How to Bridge it.

Retirement – the gender longevity gap, and how to bridge it.

On average, men don’t live as long as women. There’s no news in that. However, when it comes to the reasons why, older men, especially, may like to sit up and take notice. Even though females have a better chance of survival from the get-go (boys are more likely to die in infancy than girls), research suggests there’s actually more men can do to increase their lifespan!


When we think of men being greater risk-takers than women (it’s the traditional way we think), we tend to imagine males climbing mountains, and heading off to sea in ocean-going yachts. However, this is the romantic concept of risk-taking. In reality, men are also more likely than women to be smokers and heavy drinkers (both of which are super-risky pursuits). And the risk-taking may increase as men enter retirement.

Follow suit

Research shows women are more likely than men to have an established health provider, in the form of a GP. Not only that, but they’re more likely than men, in the course of a year, to visit their GP. Add into the equation men are more likely than women to delay visits to the GP (even when they have symptoms) and it’s not difficult to understand why women are living longer. As health needs often increase, the older we get, men of retirement age are putting themselves at a disadvantage if they don’t step up to the mark.

Foster your relationship

Single men may not want to hear this, but research shows married men, on average, can expect to live two years longer than those who are not married. And it’s largely down to their partners! Single men are more likely to smoke, drink heavily, and visit the dentist less often. We can speculate on just why this is, but most of us probably already have a hunch it’s something to do with women and their life-long habits of making appointments, not only for their partner, but also for their kids. Also, women are often the people in the home who manage meet-ups with friends and family – and we know social engagement is paramount to ageing in a healthy way. Interestingly, however, same-sex couples work as a team to encourage healthy lifestyle behaviours in each other.

Home alone – no worries!

If you are a single retired man, there’s no reason to be despondent. Once you take on board the role of a significant other in helping you to live longer, you’re making yourself aware of what it is you need to do to care for yourself. One of the biggies, is to create a larger and larger circle of friends. Apart from the benefits of mental stimulation, it also ups your chances of increasing your physical activity. So don’t sit at home, or spend all day staring at a screen; if you care about your health, join a club, volunteer, or visit the family and friends you already have.

To retire … or not

Just as you’re coming to terms with how to increase your life expectancy after retirement, we have a small spanner to throw in the works. A 2016 study linked a 1 year delay in retirement to a lower risk of dying during the 18 year period of the study, regardless of health. Another study suggests people who work past the age of 65 are about three times more likely than those who don’t, to report being in good health, and half as likely to have serious health issues such as cancer, heart disease, and dementia.

All of which means, for men especially, there’s a lot to weigh up when it comes to increasing your chances of living longer. However you approach the issue, we encourage you to pursue a healthy lifestyle and to foster beneficial relationships.