Mortality of men versus women in comparable high-level jobs: 15-year experience in the Federal Women's Study

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cause of death, follow-up studies, men, mortality, occupations, sex ratio, women


The authors investigated exposure to high-level occupations in relation to the well-known survival advantage of women compared with men of the same age. Women in the federal workforce in positions of General Schedule 14 and above in 1979–1993 (n = 4,727) were each matched with three men (n = 14,181) by age, General Schedule level, and supervisory role. Fifteen-year mortality rates were compared between men and women and against expected 15-year mortality from the US general population. Despite similar job demands, women experienced markedly lower 15-year mortality than did men. However, men in these positions had nearly 50% lower mortality compared with age-matched men in the general population; the comparable reduction for women was 38%. The simultaneous substantial, but unequal by gender, improvement in mortality resulted in a reduced male/female mortality ratio, from 1.67 in the general population to 1.40. The reduced male/female mortality ratio was especially prominent for cancer and was not evident for heart disease mortality. Survival was nominally higher in non-White than in White participants. In summary, high-level employment is associated with substantially reduced mortality in both men and women. The relative improvement in survival is greater in men despite a comparable reduction in risk of heart disease mortality by gender. Am J Epidemiol 2001;154:221–9.