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Why are women living 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 are more likely to live longer than men? And why the advantage has grown in the past? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence isn't sufficient to draw a definitive conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women are healthier than men; however, we do not know how significant the impact of each factor is.

In spite of the amount of weight, we are aware that at least a portion of the reason women live longer than men today and تحاميل مهبلية not in the past, is to have to do with the fact that several fundamental non-biological factors have changed. The factors changing are numerous. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Certain are more complicated. 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 all countries are over the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl from any country can expect to live longer than her brother.

Interestingly, this chart shows that although the female advantage is present everywhere, difference between countries is huge. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men; in Bhutan the gap is less than half one year.

In rich countries the longevity advantage for women was smaller
We will now examine the way that female advantages in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart plots the male and female lifespans at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

zBZ87kTDXcO_7jVJjKUwcwAAAA.jpgThe first is that there is an upward trend. Women and men in the United States live longer than they were 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is a widening gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very small but it increased substantially over the course of the last century.

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