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Why do women live longer than men?

Lloyd Hentze (2022-04-16)


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 makes women live much longer than men today and why is this difference growing over time? There is only limited evidence and the evidence isn't sufficient to support an unambiguous conclusion. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; but we don't know exactly how much the influence of each factor is.

In spite of the amount, we can say that a large portion of the reason why women live longer than men in the present but not previously, has to be due to the fact that several fundamental 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. Others 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.

Everywhere in the world women tend to live longer than men
The first chart below shows life expectancy at birth for اوضاع الجماع men and women. As you can see, every country is above the diagonal line of parity - it means that in all nations a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

The chart below shows that even though women enjoy an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries can be significant. In Russia women live 10 years more than males. In Bhutan the gap is less that half a year.

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The advantage for women in terms of life expectancy was lower in developed countries that it is today.
Let's now look at how the advantage of women in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancies at birth in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two specific points stand out.

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

The gap is widening: While the female advantage in life expectancy was once quite small, it has increased substantially over time.

2 years agoYou can verify that these points are also applicable to other countries that have information by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, اوضاع الجماع France, and Sweden.