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I've heard a few people claim this. Have any reputable studies concluded that homosexuals live, on average, significantly shorter than heterosexuals?

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    At the risk of half-answering, here's a notability link: lifesitenews.com/news/… – Oddthinking Jun 27 '15 at 5:12
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    Are you asking if there's an inherent difference in life expectancy, or whether the social stress, violence, and economic disadvantage that homosexuals face is killing them? – Russell Borogove Jun 28 '15 at 16:02
  • @RussellBorogove - economic disadvantage isn't nearly universal, if it even exists at all somewhere. In USA, which is only place I know data on, homosexuals on average earn MORE than heterosexuals: usnews.com/news/articles/2013/03/01/…. (Freakonomics discussed what possible causalities may be in one of the past podcasts) – user5341 Jun 30 '15 at 9:17
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The source cited in the article comment (which has a anti-homosexual slant) references this article, which does in fact show that the life expectancy of gays and bisexuals in Vancouver in 1996 was 8-20 years shorter than all men (note the large confidence interval).

The article was intended to show the effects of HIV on the life expectancy of gay men. One notable factor was the relative difficulty of getting HIV treatment in a timeframe when being homosexual was still considered socially unacceptable, resulting in the high death rates measured.

Based on census and vital statistics data, the mid- period Vancouver male population was estimated to be 180 215 and the total number of male deaths in Van- couver from 1987 to 1992 was observed to be 13 106, of which 609 or 5% were attributable to HIV/AIDS either as the underlying or antecedent cause of death...

...CONCLUSION: In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday. Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871.

However, the authors have published a rebuttal to the claims made by many anti-homosexual sources based on their work in this paper:

...it appears that our research is being used by select groups in US2 and Finland3 to suggest that gay and bisexual men live an unhealthy lifestyle that is destructive to themselves and to others. These homophobic groups appear more interested in restricting the human rights of gay and bisexuals rather than promoting their health and well being.

The aim of our research was never to spread more homophobia, but to demonstrate to an international audience how the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men can be estimated from limited vital statistics data...

...In contrast, if we were to repeat this analysis today the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men would be greatly improved. Deaths from HIV infection have declined dramatically in this population since 1996. As we have previously reported there has been a threefold decrease in mortality in Vancouver as well as in other parts of British Columbia.

The authors then refute the conclusion made by the anti-homosexual links, by statistically defining what their conclusions are, and how "gays are bad" is not a valid conclusion to draw from the paper:

It is essential to note that the life expectancy of any population is a descriptive and not a prescriptive mesaure.5 Death is a product of the way a person lives and what physical and environmental hazards he or she faces everyday. It cannot be attributed solely to their sexual orientation or any other ethnic or social factor. If estimates of an individual gay and bisexual man's risk of death is truly needed for legal or other purposes, then people making these estimates should use the same actuarial tables that are used for all other males in that population.

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    The large confidence interval means little. Especially if not associated with a level of confidence. The 99.99% confidence interval will almost always be quite large. – Paul Draper Jun 28 '15 at 3:48
  • @PaulDraper The confidence interval was obtained by assuming the percentage of homosexuals within the city and extrapolating the death rates due to AIDS. Since this value was essentially a guess, the 8-20 year time frame is itself not very precise a value, but instead merely an intelligent guess. – March Ho Jun 28 '15 at 4:11
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    if that is true (I haven't read the article), then it is not the size of the interval that is suspicious; it is the lack of real statistical analysis, and only an "intelligent guess". – Paul Draper Jun 28 '15 at 4:23
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No, there are only few authoritative studies comparing the life expectancy of homosexuals and heterosexuals since death cannot be attributed solely to any group's sexual orientation, ethnic or social factor.

  1. Per results of the R.S. Hogg et. al. 1997 study which assessed how HIV infection and AIDS impacts on mortality rates for gay and bisexual men,

    The probability of living from age 20 to 65 years for gay and bisexual men ranged from 32% for the 3% scenario, to 59% for the 9% scenario. These figures were considerably lower than for all men where the probability of living from 20 to 65 was 78%.

    The conclusion of the study was

    In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday. Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871.

    However the same research group commented about their aim in 'Gay life expectancy revisited' 2001 that

    It is essential to note that the life expectancy of any population is a descriptive and not a prescriptive measure. Death is a product of the way a person lives and what physical and environmental hazards he or she faces everyday. It cannot be attributed solely to their sexual orientation or any other ethnic or social factor.

    If estimates of an individual gay and bisexual man's risk of death is truly needed for legal or other purposes, then people making these estimates should use the same actuarial tables that are used for all other males in that population. Gay and bisexual men are included in the construction of official population-based tables and therefore these tables for all males are the appropriate ones to be used. Overall, we do not condone the use of our research in a manner that restricts the political or human rights of gay and bisexual men or any other group.

  2. Per Susan D. Cochran's 2015 study investigating the possibility that men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with women (WSW) may be at higher risk for early mortality associated with suicide and other sexual orientation associated health risks, the conclusion was

    The elevated suicide mortality risk observed among WSW partially confirms public health concerns that sexual minorities experience greater burden from suicide-related mortality.

  3. Per Morten Frisch's 2009 research to study overall mortality in a demographically defined, complete cohort of gay men and lesbians to address recent claims of markedly shorter life spans among homosexual persons, the conclusion was

    Despite recent marked reduction in mortality among gay men, Danish men and women in same-sex marriages still have mortality rates that exceed those of the general population. The excess mortality is restricted to the first few years after a marriage, presumably reflecting preexisting illness at the time of marriage. Although further study is needed, the claims of drastically increased overall mortality in gay men and lesbians appear unjustified.

  4. Per Cameron, Playfair, and Wellum 1994 study counting obituaries in various gay community publications to calculate the average life expectancy for homosexuals, the conclusion was homosexual men and women had a shorter life span than heterosexual men and women.

    However, there were several inconsistencies in this convenience sample study calculated using data from a selected sample to generalize to an entire population. Obituaries in gay community newspapers do not provide a representative sampling of the entire community. This is evident in the fact that only only 2% of the Cameron group's obituaries were for lesbians. In addition, community newspapers tend not to print obituaries for people who are not actively involved in the local gay community, those who are in the closet, and those whose loved ones simply don't submit an obituary to a local gay newspaper. The Cameron group systematically excluded an accurate estimate of the life span of gay men and lesbians from the sample By restricting their analysis to obituaries in gay newspapers.

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