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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Viola Pearson (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 main reason women are more likely to live longer than men? Why is this difference growing as time passes? The evidence is sketchy and we have only partial answers. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; However, we're not sure how much the influence to each of these variables is.

Independently of the exact weight, we know that at least a portion of the reason women live so much longer than men do today and not in the past, has to do with the fact that a number of important 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 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, اوضاع الجماع especially for survivors, ended up raising women's longevity disproportionately.

9 months agoEverywhere in the world women tend to live longer than men
The first chart below shows life expectancy at birth for men and women. We can see that every country is over the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl from every country could expect to live longer than her older brother.

It is interesting to note that the advantage of women exists across all countries, the cross-country differences are large. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men; in Bhutan the gap is less than half each year.

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In countries with high incomes, the female advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The following chart shows male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two points stand out.

First, there's an upward trend: Men as well as women in the US are living much, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is growing: Although the advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was quite small however, it has grown significantly over time.

It is possible to verify that these points are also applicable to other countries that have data by clicking the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and اوضاع الجماع Sweden.