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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. Why do women live longer than men in the present and how have these advantages gotten bigger over time? There isn't much evidence and we're left with only limited answers. Although we know that there are behavioral, biological, and environmental factors which play a significant role in women's longevity more than males, we aren't sure the extent to which each factor plays a role.

Independently of the exact amount of weight, we are aware that at least a portion of the reason why women live longer than men today but not previously, is to do with the fact that certain significant non-biological elements have changed. These are the factors that are changing. 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 parity line - it means that in all nations the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a new boy.1

The chart above shows that while the female advantage exists everywhere, the global differences are significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the difference is just half one year.

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In wealthy countries, the female advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed over time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancy at the birth in the US during the period 1790 until 2014. Two points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Both men and women in the US live much, ابر التخسيس much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

There is a widening gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be extremely small, but it grew substantially over the last century.

You can check if these points are also applicable to other countries with data by clicking the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.