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Why are women living longer than men?

Verlene Forth (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 have a longer life span than men? And how does this benefit increase in the past? We only have partial evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to support an absolute conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral as well as environmental factors which play a significant role in women's longevity more than males, we aren't sure how much each one contributes.

2 years agoIn spite of the weight, صبغ الشعر بالاسود we know that at least part of the reason women live longer than men today and not previously, is to be due to the fact that a number of fundamental 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. Others are more complicated. 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, all countries are above the diagonal parity line - this means in all countries baby girls can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

It is interesting to note that, while the advantage for women exists in all countries, global differences are significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

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In rich countries the advantage of women in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart compares male and female life expectancies at birth in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both genders in the United States live longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is getting wider: Although the female advantage in life expectancy used to be quite small It has significantly increased over time.

Using the option 'Change country in the chart, you can check that these two points are applicable to the other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.