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Why are women living longer than men?

Devin Lancaster (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 makes women live longer than men, and why is this difference growing over time? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence isn't sufficient to support an absolute conclusion. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women have longer lives than men, however, we aren't sure how much the influence of each one of these factors is.

In spite of the precise weight, we know that at least a portion of the reason women live so much longer than men and not previously, is to be due to the fact that certain important non-biological aspects have changed. The factors changing are numerous. 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, صبغ الشعر بالاسود 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. We can see that all countries are above the diagonal parity line - it means that in all nations a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

The chart above shows that the advantage of women is present everywhere, cross-country differences are large. In Russia women have a longer life span than males; while in Bhutan the gap is less than half one year.

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In rich countries the advantage of women in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's examine how the advantage of women in longevity has changed with time. The following chart shows male and female life expectancies at birth in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

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

There is a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be very small however it increased dramatically over the course of the last century.

By selecting 'Change Country in the chart, you will be able to confirm that the two points also apply to the other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.