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Why are women living longer than men?

Sienna Wunderly (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 reason women have a longer life span than men? And why is this difference growing over time? The evidence is limited and we only have incomplete answers. We are aware that behavioral, العاب زوجية biological and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women have longer lives than men, However, we're not sure how strong the relative contribution of each of these factors is.

In spite of the precise amount of weight, we are aware that a large portion of the reason why women live longer than men in the present and not in the past, is to have to do with the fact that a number of fundamental non-biological factors have changed. The factors changing are numerous. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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 we can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line , it means that in all nations a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

This chart illustrates that, although there is a women's advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries can be substantial. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan, the difference is less that half a year.

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The female advantage in terms of life expectancy was lower in developed countries than it is now.
Let's examine how the gender advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The following chart shows the life expectancy of males and females at birth in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two areas stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Women and men in America live longer than they were 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be very small, but it grew substantially over the course of the last century.

If you select the option "Change country by country' in the chart, confirm that the two points are also applicable to other countries that have available data: Sweden, France and the UK.