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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Bryant Dawbin (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 have a longer life span than men? Why does this benefit increase over time? There isn't much evidence and we only have some solutions. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; but we don't know exactly what the contribution of each of these factors is.

We know that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However, this is not because of certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Other 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.

وجع.PNGEverywhere in the world women tend to live longer than men
The first chart below shows life expectancy at birth for men and women. It is clear that all countries are over the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl in all countries can expect to live longer than her younger brother.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that while the female advantage exists everywhere, the cross-country differences are large. In Russia women have a longer life span than men. In Bhutan the difference is less than half one year.

In rich countries the longevity advantage for women used to be smaller
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancy at the birth in the US during the period 1790 to 2014. Two aspects stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. and women in the US are living much, much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy used to be very small It has significantly increased with time.

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