Region's Ratio of Males to Females Nears 50-50

Article excerpt

Medical advances are slowly closing the gap between male and female lifespans, and that's one reason Census figures released today show the number of males per 100 females has increased in Western Pennsylvania, demographic and medical experts say.

Dr. Neil Resnick, professor and chief of geriatric medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, said developments such as cholesterol- lowering statins and treatment of high blood pressure have increased male longevity more than female longevity because men tend to die earlier from cardiovascular diseases.

"The gap seems to be declining," he said.

County population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that decline. Nationally, the number of males per 100 females increased from 96 to 97 between July 1, 2000, and July 1, 2007. The ratio for Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland counties increased from 92 to 93 males per 100 females over the same period.

Chris Briem, a regional economist with the University of Pittsburgh Center for Social and Urban Research, said the regional shift is explained by an overall drop in the elderly population, where women outnumber men, and an increase in male longevity.

As people get healthier, "the relative difference of men living longer will push that ratio closer to 50-50," he said.

Resnick said the average lifespans for males and females has increased from about 46 years at the start of the 20th century to about 80 years today, but most of the increase reflects the near elimination of diseases such as scarlet fever and whooping cough that used to kill people in their childhoods and early adulthoods. …