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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Lilliana Kobayashi (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 so more than men do today and how does this benefit increase in the past? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to reach a definitive conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women are healthier than men; However, we're not sure how strong the relative contribution of each of these factors is.

We know that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. But this isn't because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. These factors are changing. 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, 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 over the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl from any country can anticipate to live longer than her younger brother.

It is interesting to note that while the female advantage is present everywhere, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women are 10 years older than men. In Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

In the richer countries, the longevity advantage for women was not as great.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart plots the male and female lifespans at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two aspects stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women in America have longer lives than they were a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: اوضاع الجماع While the advantage of women in life expectancy was once very small, it has increased substantially in the past.

When you click on the option "Change country from the chart, you can determine if these two points are also applicable to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.