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Why do women live longer than men?

Alvin Eichhorn (2022-04-15)

Everywhere in the world women live longer than men - but this was not always the case. The available data from rich countries shows that women didn't live longer than men in the 19th century. What's the main reason women have a longer life span than men? And how has this advantage gotten larger over time? The evidence is sketchy and we're left with only some solutions. While we are aware that there are biological, psychological and environmental factors which play a significant role in women who live longer than men, we don't know how much each one contributes.

In spite of the precise weight, we know that at least part of the reason why women live longer than men today however not as previously, is to do with the fact that a number of key non-biological factors have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Some are more complex. For example, there is evidence that in rich countries the female advantage increased in part because infectious diseases used to affect women disproportionately a century ago, so advances in medicine that reduced the long-term health burden from infectious diseases, especially for survivors, ended up raising women's longevity disproportionately.

20.jpgEverywhere in the world women tend to live longer than men
The first chart below shows life expectancy at birth for men and women. As you can see, all countries are above the diagonal parity line - this means in all countries the newborn girl is likely to live for صبغ الشعر بالاسود longer than a newborn boy.1

Interestingly, this chart shows that while the female advantage exists in all countries, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than males; while in Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

The female advantage in life expectancy was smaller in the richer countries that it is today.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both genders in America live longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be very small, but it grew substantially during the last century.

If you select the option "Change country in the chart, confirm that the two points also apply to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.