Fast living and an early death for British women

Click to follow
The Independent Online
British women are working harder, divorcing more frequently and dying younger than their continental counterparts, according to a survey published today that suggests they have benefited least from the feminist revolution.

Instead they have the lowest life expectancy at 79 years compared to 81.4 in France; they hold down the highest number of jobs, with 65 per cent of British women in work. But they also have to cope with more children, with the highest fertility rate in Europe at1.75 per woman.

In contrast, women in France are receiving more further education as well as living longer; and Italian and Spanish women are having fewer children than anyone, 1.24 per woman, but they are also the least likely to work.

Steve Cordingley, a spokesman for Market Assessment Publications, the company which conducted the analysis, said: "It does appear that women in Britain have had the worst deal from feminism in the last 10 years.

"There would appear to be a link between the high numbers of women working, and dying younger, because it is also high in Germany where a large number of women have jobs."

The report shows the stress has taken its toll on British women. While they marry at the youngest age, on average at 27.7 years, they have the highest number of break-ups. Four in every seven marriages end in divorce compared to the European average of one in three.

Italian women are the most successful at marriage, although they wait until they are older to go down the aisle. Only one in 12 marriages ends in divorce.

But for women who want the least stress and the most opportunities, France is the place to be. More than half receive higher education, 54 per cent, outnumbering male students. Increasingly they opt to live with their partner, rather than marry, bringing down their marriage rate to the lowest in Europe, and the divorce rate with it, and they still have a high fertility rate, 1.65 per woman.

Mr Cordingley said: "There's been a real change in terms of where women in France are at. There's a rising number taking control of their own destiny, rather than being forced to work because they have to."