Background: The life expectancy gap has widened (and narrowed) substantially before.
At the beginning of the 20th century, women had a life expectancy only two years longer than men, Dr. Yan said. But over the next 75 years, that gap began to widen, largely because more men smoked and developed cardiovascular disease or lung cancer.
As smoking rates declined, excess deaths fell among men, in particular.
But in 2010, that gender gap began to widen once again, this time driven by opioid overdose death rates, which are more than twice as tall for men. That year, the life expectancy of men was 76.3 years, while that of women was 78.1.
Men were at higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, and also faced higher rates of homicide and suicide.
The findings: Covid caused huge drops in life expectancy across the board.
More than 1.1 million people in the United States have died from Covid, a staggering number that has led to precipitous drops in life expectancy. Between 2019 and 2021, life expectancy in the United States fell by approximately 79 to 76 years.
But men have died of Covid in a high score that the women. The reasons for this are complicated. Biological factors, such as differences in inflammation and immune responses, likely played an important role.
But social and behavioral differences also mattered. Men are more likely to work in industries with higher rates of Covid exposure and deaths, including transportation, agriculture and construction, or to experience incarceration or homelessness. Women are also more likely to get vaccinated.
From 2019 to 2021, Covid was the main contributor to the growing gap in life expectancy between men and women, contributing almost 40 percent of the difference in years lost.
Deaths from overdoses and homicides also increased.
Unintentional injuries, mostly drug overdoses, contributed to more than 30 percent of the gap in life expectancy between men and women. But more men also died from homicide or suicide between 2019 and 2021.
“All of this points to a picture of worsening mental health across the board, but particularly among men,” Dr. Yan said.
Dr. Yan noted that his analysis did not include transgender people or other gender identities, because death certificates do not record that information.