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Why do women have longer lives 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 is the reason women live much longer than men today and why have these advantages gotten bigger over time? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to draw an informed conclusion. We know there are biological, behavioral and environmental factors which play a significant role in the longevity of women over men, we don't know what percentage each factor plays in.

In spite of the number of pounds, we know that at least part of the reason women live so much longer than men do today but not in the past, is to be due to the fact that certain important non-biological aspects have changed. What are these factors that have changed? 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 ابر التخسيس 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 that in all countries the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart illustrates that, while there is a female advantage across all countries, differences between countries are often significant. In Russia women have a longer life span than men. In Bhutan the difference is less than half an hour.

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In rich countries the women's advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
We will now examine how the female advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two areas stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Women and men living in America are living longer than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

There is an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very modest, but it grew substantially over the course of the last century.

If you select the option "Change country by country' in the chart, you are able to confirm that the two points are also applicable to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.2 years ago