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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's the main reason women have a longer life span than men? What is the reason the advantage has grown in the past? We only have partial evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to reach an unambiguous conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; however, we do not know how much the influence of each of these factors is.

Independently of the exact weight, we know that at least a portion of the reason women live longer than men today and not previously, has to have to do with the fact that several significant non-biological elements have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues 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, 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 line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl from every country could anticipate to live longer than her younger brother.

It is interesting to note that the advantage of women exists across all countries, the global differences are significant. In Russia women have a longer life span than men, while in Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

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The female advantage in life expectancy was much lower in countries with higher incomes than it is today.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart plots the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two specific points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both genders in the United States live longer than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And العاب زوجية second, there is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very small, but it grew substantially during the last century.

1 year agoYou can confirm that these principles are also applicable to other countries that have data by selecting the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.