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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 longer than men, and why is this difference growing in the past? The evidence isn't conclusive and we're left with only partial answers. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women have longer life spans than men, صبغ الشعر بالاسود however, we do not know what the contribution of each of these factors is.

In spite of the amount of weight, we are aware that at a minimum, the reason women live longer than men do today but not in the past, is to relate to the fact that certain significant non-biological elements 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, 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. As you can see, all countries are above the diagonal line of parity - this means that in all countries that a baby girl can be expected to live longer than a new boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that while the female advantage is present everywhere, global differences are significant. In Russia women are 10 years older than men. In Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

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The female advantage in terms of life expectancy was lower in developed countries than it is now.
We will now examine how the female advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female lifespans at birth in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two things stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women living in America are living longer than they were a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy used to be extremely small however, it has grown significantly in the past.

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