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Why do women live 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. What makes women live more than men do today and why have these advantages gotten bigger over time? The evidence is limited and we have only partial solutions. Although we know that there are biological, psychological as well as environmental factors which all play a part in the longevity of women over men, we do not know what percentage each factor plays in.

In spite of the precise amount, we can say that at least a portion of the reason why women live longer than men do today however not as previously, is to be due to the fact that certain fundamental 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. Some 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, علامات الحمل بولد 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 over the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in every country can anticipate to live longer than her brothers.

It is interesting to note that, while the advantage for women exists across all countries, the country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women live 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the difference is less than half a calendar year.

The female advantage in life expectancy was much lower in countries with higher incomes as compared to the present.
Let's now look at the way that female advantages in longevity has changed with time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies at the time of birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two areas stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men as well as women in the US are living much, much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is increasing: While the advantage of women in life expectancy was once tiny but it has risen significantly over time.

You can check if these are applicable to other countries with data by selecting the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, علامات الحمل بولد France, and Sweden.