A lot has already been written about life expectancy in Israel, but almost no-one has compared life expectancy for men and women in the various cities.
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Generally speaking, women live longer in all of them — but although one might think that urban residents have a longer life expectancy because of the higher quality of services available in cities, the statistics prove otherwise.
Of men who live in the large cities, those who live in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, with its high housing prices and cost of living and easy access to medical services, are at the bottom of the list, with an average life expectancy of 77.5 years. Women in Tel Aviv live 4.8 years longer than men on average, but they are still in tenth place and lowest in the total ranking.
The highest-ranked among the large cities are the residents of Ramat Gan. Life expectancy for women there is 84.3 years on average, with 80.6 years for men. The gap between life expectancy for men and women, 3.7 years, is fairly narrow. By comparison, the gap in Netanya is five years, with women living 83.8 years on average (second place on the list), while men live only 77.8 years. Bat Yam has a wide gap, too: women there live 4.6 years longer than men on average. But, unlike in the neighboring cities, general life expectancy there is relatively low for both men and women, and Bat Yam is ranked 11th out of the 14 large cities. In Rishon Lezion, the difference between men’s and women’s life expectancies is relatively small: 83.7 for women and 80 for men. Things are a bit more balanced in Rehovot: 80 years for men and 83.3 years for women.
Large cities with a significant religious and Haredi populations have some intriguing results. For example, in Bnei Brak, women live 83.1 years on average — only eighth place on the list — while men took second place with, 80.1 years. Of the large cities, Bnei Brak had the narrowest gap between the life expectancies of men and women.
Dr. Hannah Kehat, the founder and director of the Kolech Religious Women’s Forum, is not surprised. “We have other statistics, including a very large study conducted recently at Hadassah University Hospital among 45,000 Haredi women, that clearly show that life expectancy decreases as the number of children increases,” she says. “Women with five and more children suffer from earlier mortality than other women do.”
A look at the statistics for Jerusalem shows much the same trend. Women’s life expectancy there is similar to that in Bnei Brak — 83.2 years — and 79.7 years for men. Here, too, the gap is fairly narrow. A look at the cities in the center as compared with the periphery proves that except for Bat Yam and Tel Aviv, average life expectancy decreases as distance from the center increases. “All the statistics that deal with aging show the same gap between the center and the periphery,” says Dr. Israel Doron, an expert on gerontology at the University of Haifa. “The difference in life expectancy among the various locales stems from differences in socioeconomic levels. The level of accessibility of services provided by the local authorities varies between communities that are rich or poor, homogeneous or mixed. Since the quality and availability of these services — nursing care, medical treatment and rehabilitation — affect our health, they influence our life expectancy as well.”