Trends in Gender Inequalities in Life Expectancies at Birth in Africa, 1950-2015

  • William Muhwava Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa
  • Gideon Rutaremwa Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa
Keywords: Inequality, gender gap, life expectancy at birth, Life table


In this paper, life expectancies by gender are presented for countries and regions in Africa. The gender gaps in life expectancy are calculated. Data on life expectancies by sex for African countries are available from the UNDESA and the latest estimates of 2015 are used. Four patterns of gender gap in life expectancy at birth trends are observed in Africa. The first group have high life expectancies and large gender gaps and comprises of mainly small islands (Seychelles, Mauritius and Mayotte) and those in North Africa whole life expectancy at birth has exceeded 70 years.  The second group are those countries where the gap has been stable but narrowed during the peak of the AIDS epidemic but has started widening in recent times and comprising countries mainly in Southern Africa. Group 3 are those countries where the gender gaps has been low over the period and have narrowed or remained consistently low in recent times, mainly in West Africa. The last group comprises of countries where life expectancy at birth for males exceeds that of females. Currently, Swaziland and Mali are the only countries exhibiting this pattern. Thus, some few countries in Africa have followed trends that have been experienced by developed countries and many have followed a different pattern

Author Biographies

William Muhwava, Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa
Chief of Population and Youth Section15
Gideon Rutaremwa, Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa
Population Affairs Officer