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Why do women live longer than men?

Randall Jaynes (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 longer than men and why is this difference growing in the past? The evidence is limited and we have only incomplete answers. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women have longer life spans than men, but we don't know exactly how strong the relative contribution of each one of these factors is.

We have learned that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. But this is not because of certain biological or non-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 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 above the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl in every country can anticipate to live longer than her younger brother.

This graph shows that although women have an advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be significant. In Russia, women live 10 years more than males. In Bhutan the gap is only half a year.

In countries with high incomes, the women's advantage in longevity was not as great.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The chart below shows men and women's life expectancies at birth in the US during the period 1790 to 2014. Two things stand out.

There is an upward trend. and 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.

Second, the gap is getting wider: Although the advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was very small It has significantly increased in the past.

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