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Why do women live longer than men?

Kimberly Castleberry (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 makes women live much longer than men today, and why has this advantage increased over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to reach an informed conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women have longer life spans than men, but we don't know exactly how significant the impact of each one of these factors is.

We have learned that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. But, this is not due to the fact that certain non-biological aspects 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, كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور ( 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 line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl in all countries can be expected to live for longer than her brother.

This chart illustrates that, although there is a women's advantage across all countries, differences between countries are often significant. In Russia women live 10 years more than males. In Bhutan, the difference is just half a year.

In countries with high incomes, the advantage of women in longevity used to be smaller
Let's look at how the female advantage in longevity has changed over time. The next chart plots male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two specific points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Men and women in the United States live longer than they were a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be extremely small however it increased dramatically over the course of the last century.

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