Sunday, April 30, 2006

Men Living Longer

The NYTimes has an article this week on (horror of horrors) men living longer. Apparently the discrepancy between the life expectancy of men and women has declined from 7 to 5 years, and if things continue at this rate, life expectancy for men will equal that of women by 2040.

When I was in my twenties, I remember a friend telling me about her grandmother, that had been widowed at a fairly young age. Grandmother's friends and family kept urging her to remarry. She refused. "What do I need take care of an Alter Kacker" (Old Fart)"? Which brings to mind the Japanese phrase referring to older retired men who hang around the house - "wet fallen leaves"... (i.e., you can't even sweep them away).

The NYTimes seems to agree that men hanging around longer is not all for the good, but they still see some benefits for women. First of all, on the positive side, they say that "money seems to attach itself to men" (a great phrase IMHO), and that when women are widowed, their income (even if their husbands were retired) drops. Second... Well, there is no second. Apparently, being widowed significantly lowers a man's life expectancy, but doesn't seem to be detrimental to the woman's. Although they do think she's less likely to find herself in an old age home if her husband is still alive...

BTW, my own bias is that money attaches itself to married men and to single (not widowed or divorce) women. But in this case the Times was talking about married men.

I'm still somewhat of a romantic that believes having men around is a good thing, period. But of course, maybe I'm wrong.


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