How does our sex and age affect what we die from?

July 26, 2016   //   No Comments

More than half a million deaths were registered in England and Wales in 2015, but data from the Office of National Statistics shows that the cause of death can depend heavily on our sex and age.  When looking at the causes of death in 2015, for the most part more men died at each single year of age until 83, from which greater numbers of women died.  Studies have shown males are more fragile as foetuses and babies under 1 year. This continues throughout childhood with larger numbers of males dying than females. The greater number of women dying from age 83 is linked to women living longer than men.

External causes, for example, accidents and suicides, were the most common broad cause of death for people aged 5 to 49 in 2015 but over three times as many deaths from external causes were registered to males than females in 2015.  Studies have shown that the frontal lobe, the main part of the brain associated with planning, working memory, and impulse control, is not fully developed until well into our twenties. For this reason, young people are more likely to act impulsively and take life-threatening risks.

External causes accounted for 45% of male and 30% of female deaths at ages 5 to 19 in 2015. In 2014, vehicle accidents were the first and second leading specific causes of death for females and males respectively, aged 5 to 19, in England and Wales, accounting for 11% of deaths at this age. Worldwide, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29.

Suicide, including injury or poisoning of undetermined intent, has been one of the top 3 leading specific causes of death for people aged 5 to 49 in recent years, accounting for around 12% of deaths registered at these ages in 2014. Around 80% of these deaths are male; recent studies have linked the excess of male suicides to pressures of economic hardship, new challenges of mid-life and personality traits such as emotional illiteracy.

You may read the full report here.