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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Jacques Carbajal (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's the reason women are more likely to live longer than men? What is the reason has this advantage gotten larger over time? The evidence isn't conclusive and we have only partial answers. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women have longer lives than men, but we don't know exactly how much the influence of each of these factors is.

It is known that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. But this is not because of certain biological or 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. 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 - which means that in every country baby girls can expect to live longer than a new boy.1

This graph shows that while there is a female advantage in all countries, صبغ الشعر بالاسود the differences across countries can be significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the difference is less than half an hour.

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In wealthy countries, the longevity advantage for women was not as great.
We will now examine how the advantage of women in terms of longevity has changed over time. The next chart shows the male and female lifespans at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two areas stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both genders in America live longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used to be very modest but it increased substantially over the last century.

It is possible to verify that these principles are also applicable to other countries that have data by clicking on the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and صبغ الشعر بالاسود Sweden.