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Why women live longer than men?

Anthony Lovejoy (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's the main reason women are more likely to live longer than men? What is the reason has this advantage gotten larger in the past? We only have partial evidence and the evidence isn't sufficient to support an unambiguous conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women have longer life spans than men, however, we do not know how strong the relative contribution of each of these factors is.

We know that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. But this isn't because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. These variables are evolving. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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, صبغ الشعر بالاسود 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 every country is above the diagonal parity line , it means that in all nations the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a new boy.1

The chart above shows that, while the advantage for women exists in all countries, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men; in Bhutan the difference is less than half an hour.

The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in developed countries that it is today.
We will now examine how the advantage of women in terms of longevity has changed over time. The next chart plots male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

There is an upward trend. as well as women in the US live much, much longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very small however it increased dramatically over the course of the last century.

You can verify that these principles are also applicable to other countries that have data by clicking the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.