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Why do women have longer lives 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 live longer than men? Why does this benefit increase as time passes? There isn't much evidence and we only have partial answers. We know there are behavioral, biological and environmental variables that play an integral role in the longevity of women over males, we aren't sure how much each factor contributes.

We know that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However it is not because of certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. What are these new factors? 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. We can see that all countries are above the diagonal parity line - it means that in all nations the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

Interestingly, this chart shows that the advantage of women is present everywhere, global differences are significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan, the difference is only half a year.

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In the richer countries, the longevity advantage for women was previously smaller.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

There is an upward trend. Women and men in America have longer lives than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is widening: While the female advantage in life expectancy used to be tiny It has significantly increased in the past.

You can check if the points you've listed are applicable to other countries that have data by clicking on the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, تحاميل مهبلي Tags: and Sweden.