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Why are women living longer than men?

Kimberly Castleberry (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. Why do women live longer than men in the present and how does this benefit increase over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an absolute conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; however, we aren't sure how significant the impact of each factor is.

In spite of the amount, we can say that at a minimum, the reason women live so much longer than men do today and not previously, is to relate to the fact that several fundamental non-biological factors have changed. These factors 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. We can see that every country is above the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl from every country could anticipate to live longer than her older brother.

This chart shows that, even though women enjoy an advantage everywhere, cross-country differences are often significant. In Russia women have a longer life span than males; while in Bhutan the difference is just half an hour.

The female advantage in life expectancy was less in the richer countries that it is today.
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed over time. The following chart shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Women and men living in America are living longer than they were a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And ماذا يحدث بين الزوجين في الحمام بالصور second, there is a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be very small however it increased dramatically in the past century.

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