Other Paper

Gender gap in life expectancy in India, 1970-2006

Canudas Romo, V., Saikia, N.
IEG working paper 322
22 pages.
New Delhi, Institute of Economic Growth (2013)


In this paper, we assess the changing age pattern of mortality in India and bigger states during 1970–2006 by applying a two-dimensional flexible mortality model. Using survey data from India, we provide further evidence of changes in country and state-level patterns of mortality differentials by sex, and assess the potential role of the major causes of death to this differential. We also study the contribution of major causes of death to the female–male mortality gap. The findings confirm that the health advantage of Indian females overmales has been growing since the 1980s. This occurred despite persistent disadvantages among females below age 5. The biggest contribution to the life expectancy gap between females and males—in the second half of the 1990s—came from non-communicable diseases and external causes of death. We also found a notable geographical variation in sex-specific mortality patterns. While more advanced states showed female longevity advantages in the 1970s, laggard states displayed similar mortality levels for males and females even recently. It is necessary to consider changing sex-specific mortality patterns in India and their geographical diversity to understand the path and timing of health transition and its determinants.
Keywords: India, mortality
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