STUMP » Articles » Graph Week: The Mortality Gender Gap Among Workers » 23 June 2015, 16:46

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Graph Week: The Mortality Gender Gap Among Workers  


23 June 2015, 16:46

Or, rather, among workers who have defined benefit pensions from private employers.

Everybody knows about the gender wage gap. I’m not here to discuss that. I’m not even here to discuss the graphs other than to help you interpret the numbers. I’m not talking about why these disparities exist. Just that they do.

I’m using two different sets of mortality tables to compare: the Social Security Period Life Table for 2010, which can be found here; and the Society of Actuaries’ official RP-2014 table, which is used for valuing private pensions. Information about RP-2014 can be found here. The Social Security table covers the U.S. population as a whole, so that includes people who are not working for whatever reason. RP-2014 covers only those in private DB plans. The analysis includes White Collar and Blue Collar workers. There is also a split by income quartiles, which I will show later.

What I will be graphing is the male-to-female mortality rate ratios. The mortality rate in a table is the probability that one will die in the next year, given you are age x (whatever age that is). If men and women had the same mortality rates, the ratio would be 1. If men are more likely to die than women, the ratio would be greater than 1. If men are less likely to die, the ratio would be less than 1.

So here goes: a comparison among active workers as well as the overall U.S. population:

You can see the artifacts of smoothing in the RP-2014 tables. Aren’t they pretty?

That said, those ratios, especially the overall ratio, doesn’t look largely different from the Social Security ratio for most ages, until you get close to retirement age. Part of that is because those who retire at age 60 are not the same people who are still working at age 60.

The RP-2014 splits off disabled retirees as opposed to healthy annuitants (meaning that they retired healthy, as opposed to disabled).

Let’s look at the ratios for healthy annuitants, and Social Security:

You can kind of tell they had extrapolated for ages under 60 for RP-2014. Just not enough retiree data there, I suppose. In this case, we see less disparity between male/female mortality in the private pensions rates compared to Social Security. I can think of lots of reasons why that could be, but I leave that as an exercise to the reader.

I was doing male-female ratios this entire time, but why not plot the mortality rates themselves?


Here are the active employees and Social Security rates, both male and female:

Note how much higher the general population male mortality is than the working male mortality. Heck, the general population female mortality is worse than the male workers’ mortality.

And now for retirees:

I find it very interesting that the male healthy retirees have essentially the same mortality rates as the female Social Security mortality (general population).

Related Posts
Labor force participation rates, part 5: the Gender Gap
Labor force participation rates, part 3: Older folks (55 and up)
Checking the Numbers: How Much are Social Security Benefits?