baltimore 2009
baltimore 1989

The internet is abuzz with a new study showing that women’s life expectancies, which have tended to be longer than men’s, are growing at a slower rate than men’s. In other words, while U.S. women live an average of 81 years (and men average 76), they have gained only 2.7 years in life expectancy since 1989, while men’s life expectancies have risen by 4.6 years. Scientists are calling this “a wake-up call,” and blaming a lack of adequate health care for the gap. But those are the trends for the nation as a whole; Baltimore looks significantly different. In Baltimore City, male life expectancy is a mere 67.8 years, below the world average (!) and comparable with life expectancies in countries like Indonesia and Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Baltimore women outlive men by a margin of a whopping 8.7 years.

And while nationwide, life expectancies are growing and the gender gap is shrinking, the reverse is true in Baltimore City:  in 1989, female life expectancy was 78.7 years; males lived an average of 72.4 years (that’s a gap of 6.3 years, for those of you who don’t have calculators handy). The shorter life spans can be explained by a host of factors, ranging from obesity-related diseases to inadequate health care to income inequality.

Both shocking and totally, depressingly predictable is the radical change in life expectancy that takes place across the county line. In Baltimore County, women live an average of 80.6 years and men 75.5 years. That’s still slightly below average, but it means that Baltimore County men average nearly 8 years of additional life than their City counterparts. National Geographic and other media outlets are wondering about how to help raise average life expectancy to 86 like those annoying Californians; we’re just worried about keeping the men of Baltimore alive to a ripe old age.