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Why do women live longer than men?

Bruce Hateley (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 is the reason women live longer than men in the present, and why has this advantage increased over time? The evidence isn't conclusive and we're only able to provide partial solutions. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; however, we aren't sure how significant the impact of each of these factors is.

In spite of how much weight, we know that at a minimum, the reason why women live so much longer than men today but not previously, is to do with the fact that some key non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Other are more complicated. 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, every country is above the diagonal parity line ; this means that in all countries that a baby girl can be expected to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

The chart above shows that although the female advantage exists across all countries, the country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.

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The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in countries with higher incomes as compared to the present.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart shows the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two aspects stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. as well as 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.

The gap is getting wider: Although the advantage of women in life expectancy was extremely small It has significantly increased over time.

You can verify that these points are also applicable to other countries with information by clicking on the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, افضل كريم للشعر France, and Sweden.