Life Span – Why Women Live Longer and Outliving Expectations

Clock Dispersing in hand
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Women live longer than men. Everybody knows that. Why is up for grabs. They eat better. They take care of themselves better. They shy away from danger. (“Please go downstairs and see what that burglar wants.”) Because they bear the children, they’ve been endowed with an extra layer of protective fat on their bodies. 

As for men, we suffer the effects of having more testosterone. We drink. We eat junk food. We go out in the alley and fight to settle our differences. And if we lose and get knocked down, unlike the womenfolk who have more protective fat, we don’t bounce right back up.

I’ve often wondered why men don’t march and protest about all the years of life the women get to see that the men don’t. It’s a six-year difference. Maybe it’s because of our “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” attitude. We don’t even want to think about it. It’s in line with the male worker bees preferring to die rather than allow the queen bee to breathe her last. That’s okay, the worker bees say. Pretty stupid if you ask me. 

What if I had died six years before today? My wife would have seen everything during these six years. Britney Spears being vindicated. Harvey Weinstein being sentenced to prison. Bob Dylan getting the Nobel Prize. Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump. Serena Williams retiring. The Mets making a big run for the World Series. Elon Musk making plans for Mars. I would have missed all that. Not fair. 

Speaking of which, the government in August released its most recent data on longevity in America. And yes, the men still lag behind the women by almost six years. Furthermore, looking deep down into the data, I found out I was supposed to be dead by now.

The longevity data reports on the five main ethnic groups in America, which is possible to do because every year the government collects information from everybody about this. The categories are “White,” “Black,” “Asian,” “Hispanic,” and “Native American and Alaska Native.”

I read data in 2019 which showed Asians in America are the lucky recipients of the longest life spans. Their average life span was 86. The Hispanics came in second at 82 years. Whites were third with 79 years, Blacks fourth with 75 and Native Americans last at 73 years.

By the end of 2020, life expectancy had dropped almost two years. Mostly, it was because of the COVID pandemic. They are pretty sure of that. As for other things, the cause is unclear. Could be any of a lot of things. Access to medicine. Genetic differences. Prejudice. Education differences. Go figure. 

The only thing that kind of jumped out at me was that Hispanics live longer than Whites. Why? Maybe they do more physical work than those in the White category. Could it be that, on average, they are temperamentally happier? Is having the major hot meal at noon every day the answer? I don’t know. 

I was thinking, “Hey, Whites, get off those treadmills. Get out there in the air and get some work done!”

But the most sobering takeaway of all of this for me was the Whites’ life span, which dropped to 76 years in the data for the 2021 calendar year.

At 76, you’d add three years if you’re a female. Me? I’m a White male. You subtract three. That means my expected life span is 73.

But on August 15, 2022, I turned 83. So I have lived longer than the average. And I’m still chugging along. Enjoying what the women have gotten to see all this time and then a little more so.

Have I thought about why my life span has gone beyond the average? All I can come up with is that I’ve done something I enjoy for my entire adult life. It’s called Dan’s Papers. I founded it in a community I love. I made a financial success of it. I wrote things that I hoped would make others happier than they would have been had they not read what I wrote. And here I am.

And it’s also true – my dad pointed this out to me years ago – that I’ve been a complete failure at every other thing I ever tried to do. In grammar school, I was told I was a child prodigy in music. But my parents, seeing after six months that I didn’t want to practice the piano for five hours a day, called it off.

In high school my dad got me a weekend job in a photography store and after three weeks, they fired me for being slow. In college I worked for my dad in the summertime at his store in Montauk and he fired me. College ended with my trying to become an architect but failing. I got a job in The New York Times city room and they fired me after two weeks. I tried teaching at Southampton College and they did not invite me back. I cofounded an alternative newspaper in Manhattan and after six months, the others bought me out and I was outta there. 

I just want to thank everybody for teaching me my lesson. So I’m just going to keep doing the only thing that works for me. And which I enjoy doing very much. 

No idea how long this will keep going. But I hope it’s a lot.

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