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Why are women living longer than men?

Randall Patterson (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. Why do women live more than men do today and how does this benefit increase in the past? The evidence is limited and we're only able to provide incomplete answers. We know there are biological, psychological and environmental factors that all play a role in women who live longer than males, we aren't sure how much each factor contributes.

Independently of the exact number of pounds, we know that a large portion of the reason women live longer than men today, but not in the past, has to relate to the fact that some key non-biological factors have changed. What are these factors that have changed? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are others that are more intricate. 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.

tafsiribnukatsirmuhaqqoq001b-11011501514Everywhere 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 be expected to live for longer than her older brother.

Interestingly, this chart shows that although the female advantage 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 wealthy countries, the women's advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's now look at the way that female advantages in terms of longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows the life expectancy of males and females at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and العاب زوجية 2014. Two points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both men 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.

The second is that there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used be very modest however, it has increased significantly over the last century.

Using the option 'Change country' on the chart, you will be able to determine if these two points are applicable to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.