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Why are women living longer than men?

Joesph Laforest (2022-04-18)

reading-about-web-development.jpg?width=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 are more likely to live longer than men? Why does this benefit increase in the past? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to support an absolute conclusion. While we are aware that there are behavioral, biological, and environmental factors that all play a role in women's longevity more than males, it isn't clear what percentage each factor plays in.

We know that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. But, this is not because of certain non-biological aspects 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. We can see that every country is above the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl from every country could expect to live longer than her younger brother.

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

The advantage of women in life expectancy was less in developed countries that it is today.
Let's examine how the female advantage in terms of longevity has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend: Men 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.

Second, the gap is increasing: While the female advantage in terms of life expectancy was quite small but it has risen significantly in the past.

Using the option 'Change country by country' in the chart, verify that these two points are applicable to other countries that have available data: تزويد متابعين تويتر Sweden, France and the UK.