Article

Women live more years, but not always with health and happiness

Aïda Solé-Auró, Pompeu Fabra University

The study shows the relationship between life expectancy and life satisfaction for men and women in various European countries. To study a population’s quality of life, it is necessary to combine the use of objective health measurements (e.g. mortality) and subjective ones (e.g. perception of happiness). Women in Europe live more years than men, but with poorer levels of health and happiness.
Key points
  • 1
       In Spain it is calculated that women aged 50 years will spend 56% of their remaining lifetime in good health, whereas for men the figure is 63%.
  • 2
       In various European countries, it is observed that the female advantage in terms of longevity is not accompanied by greater happiness.
  • 3
       In comparison with men, European women live more years, but in a worse state of health and also with less happiness.
Life expectancy, life expectancy with good health, and years of life with high levels of happiness
Life expectancy, life expectancy with good health, and years of life with high levels of happiness

The figure illustrates total life expectancy, life expectancy with good health, and years of life with high levels of happiness at 50 years for men and women. The countries in which life expectancy is higher are not the ones in which people live longer with happiness. The number of years with happiness varies substantially between countries. In the case of Spanish or French women, it is observed that, despite their life expectancies being among the highest, their proportion of years with happiness is lower than in other countries. In contrast, Swedish men have one of the highest life expectancies and a large part of their years are lived with a high level of happiness. Differences in health and happiness are not closely related to their respective life expectancies.

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