Bad news for put-upon wives who look forward to a nice, long widowhood : Though women still live longer on average than men, the gender gap in life expectancy has been shrinking. A report  released this week by the National Center for Health Statistics puts the disparity at 5.3 years as of 2003, down from 5.4 in 2002 and from a peak of 7.8 in 1979. Women keep gaining in longevity, but men have been gaining faster. The most recent figures for life expectancy at birth are 80.1 years for women and 74.8 years for men. The gap becomes smaller once people get past the years in which male recklessness is a leading risk factor. At age 20, for instance, a man can expect to live another 55.9 years, while a women has another 60.9 years coming. At age 60, a man can expect to last another 20.5 years, vs. 23.8 years for a woman. Gender aside, the steady increase in lifespan must come as an affront to the health experts who hector the rest of us about our unhealthy habits. Perhaps those aren't so fatal after all .
—Posted by Mark Dolliver