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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Ngan Van Raalte (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 are more likely to live longer than men? And how has this advantage gotten larger as time passes? We only have partial evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to support an unambiguous conclusion. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; However, we're not sure how much the influence of each one of these factors is.

We have learned that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However this isn't due to the fact that certain non-biological aspects have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are others that are more intricate. 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.

Everywhere in the world women tend to live longer than men
The first chart below shows life expectancy at birth for men and women. As we can see, all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; this means in all countries baby girls can expect to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart illustrates that, while there is a female advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be substantial. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men; in Bhutan the gap is just half an hour.

The advantage for women in life expectancy was smaller in countries with higher incomes than it is today.
Let's now look at how the female advantage in terms of longevity has changed over time. The next chart shows the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend: Men and ابر التخسيس women in the US are living much, much longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is a widening gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be very small however it increased dramatically during the last century.

You can confirm that these principles are also applicable to other countries with data by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.