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Why do women live longer than men?

Jetta Tedesco (2022-04-18)

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 much longer than men today, and why does this benefit increase in the past? There isn't much evidence and we're left with only limited solutions. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; however, we do not know how much the influence of each of these factors is.

In spite of the weight, we know that at least part of the reason why women live longer than men today, but not previously, is to be due to the fact that a number of key non-biological factors have changed. What are the factors that are changing? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are others that are more intricate. 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, زيوت تطويل الشعر 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 diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl from any country can expect to live longer than her brother.

It is interesting to note that the advantage of women exists everywhere, the country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women are 10 years older than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half a year.

The advantage women had in life expectancy was less in countries with higher incomes that it is today.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US from 1790-2014. Two distinct points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Men and 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 widening: While the female advantage in life expectancy was tiny but it has risen significantly with time.

When you click on the option "Change country by country' in the chart, you can verify that these two points apply to other countries that have available information: Sweden, France and the UK.