A consistent finding from contemporary Western societies is that women outlive men. However, what is unclear is whether sex differences in survival are constant across varying socio-ecological conditions. We test the universality of the female survival advantage with mortality data from a nineteenth century population in the Baja California peninsula of Mexico. When examined simply, we find evidence for a male-biased survival advantage. However, results from Cox regression clearly show the importance of age intervals for variable survival patterns by sex. Our key findings are that males: (i) experience significantly lower mortality risk than females during the ages 15-30 (RR = 0.69), (ii) are at a significantly increased risk of dying in the 61+ category (RR = 1.30) and (iii) do not experience significantly different mortality risk at any other age interval (0-14, 31-45, 46-60). We interpret our results to stem from differing intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors for sex-biased mortality across age intervals, highlighting the relevance of a lifecourse approach to the study of survival advantage. Ultimately, our results make clear the need to more broadly consider variability in mortality risk factors across time and place to allow for a clearer understanding of human survival differences.

References

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