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Why do women live longer than men?

Sam Harden (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 more than men do today and how has this advantage increased over time? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not sufficient to support a definitive conclusion. We know there are biological, psychological, صبغ الشعر بالاسود and environmental factors that play an integral role in women's longevity more than men, we don't know how much each one contributes.

We are aware that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. However it is not because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. What 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 men and women. It is clear that all countries are above the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in every country can be expected to live for longer than her brothers.

The chart below shows that although women have an advantage across all countries, differences between countries are often significant. In Russia women have a longer life span than men. In Bhutan the gap is less than half a year.

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The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in rich countries as compared to the present.
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US during the period 1790 to 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both men and women in the US have a much longer life span longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy was once tiny, it has increased substantially with time.

You can check if these points are also applicable to other countries with data by clicking the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.