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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. Why do women live so longer than men in the present and why does this benefit increase over time? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not strong enough to make an informed conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral and environmental factors that play an integral role in women who live longer than males, it isn't clear how much each factor contributes.

We know that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. But, this is not because of certain biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? 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 علامات الحمل بولد 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 علامات الحمل بولد women. We can see that all countries are over the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in all countries can anticipate to live longer than her brother.

The chart above shows that although the female advantage exists in all countries, cross-country differences are large. In Russia women are 10 years older than males; while in Bhutan the difference is less than half a year.

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In rich countries the longevity advantage for women was smaller
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart plots male and female life expectancy at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two distinct points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both men as well as women in the US live a lot, much longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is widening: While the female advantage in life expectancy was very small, it has increased substantially with time.

If you select the option "Change country by country' in the chart, you are able to confirm that the two points apply to other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.