Males aged 38 and females aged 41 have the same amount of time left to live on average, and the gender gap in average lifespan has narrowed to less than seven years for the first time ever, according to lifespan data for 2003 released by the National Statistical Office on December 20.
The Halfway Point in Life is 38 for Men and 41 for Women-
The average lifespan for Koreans as of 2003 was 73.9 for males, 80.8 for females, and 77.5 combined, according to Statistical Office data.
Compared to 1993, the figures grew by 5.1 and 4.0 years each for men and women, respectively.
The average life expectancy for Korean women is higher than 80.6, the average of the 30 member countries of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Older people are expected to have bigger increases in their remaining life spans now as compared to the past. In 2003, a male aged 15 had 59.5 years left to live, 4.5 years longer than 55, which is how many years a 15 year old male had left to live in 1993.
Men aged 65 can live for 15 more years, up 2.0 years over the same period. For women aged 65, the increase was 2.3 years, from 16.7 to 19 years.
Preventative medicine professor Sohn Myeong-se of Yonsei University predicted that average life expectancy will see further increases in the future, as infant mortality is falling and a large number of those who experienced severe malnutrition during the Korean War have died.
The expected figures for remaining life spans by age are: for 30 year olds: males 45 years and females 51.7 years; for 40 year olds: males 35.6 and females 42 years; for 50 year olds: males 26.8 and females 32.5 years; and for 60 year olds: males 18.8 years and women 23.3 years.
The possibility for someone 60 years old now to live to 90 was 10.9 percent and 22.9 percent for men and women, respectively.
Smaller Gender Gap in Lifespan-
The gap in average lifespan between males and females widened every year since relevant data was first released in 1971, with 8.4 years longer for women than men in 1985.
Since 1986, however, the average lifespan for males began to increase more than the one for females did. The gender gap in 2003 was 6.9 years, meaning the period that widowed wives live either alone or remarried is shortening.
Manager Kim Dong-hoi of the Demographics Department in the Statistical Office forecasted that mens average life expectancies will continue to see higher annual increases than womens, as average lifespan for females approaches its maximum limit.
Men Must Beware of Cancer; Women Must Beware of Circulatory Diseases-
If a man aged 45 dies in 2003, the most likely cause is cancer: 28.4 percent.
On the other hand, a woman aged 45 has a 30.1 percent chance of dying from a circulatory-related illness, including high blood pressure and cerebrovascular diseases. If a male does not develop cancer, he can live 4.9 years longer than the current estimated figures, and a female can live 2.7 years longer if she avoids circulatory illnesses.