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Why do women live longer than men?

Maude Lack (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 longer than men in the present and why have these advantages gotten bigger in the past? The evidence is sketchy and we only have incomplete answers. We are aware that behavioral, العاب زوجية biological and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; however, we aren't sure how much the influence of each of these factors is.

In spite of how much amount, we can say that at least part of the reason why women live so much longer than men in the present but not in the past, has to be due to the fact that a number of important non-biological aspects have changed. The factors changing are numerous. 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, العاب زوجية 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 diagonal line of parity - it means that in all nations that a baby girl can be expected to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart illustrates that, while there is a female advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be substantial. In Russia, women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the gap is less than half a calendar year.

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In rich countries the advantage of women in longevity used to be smaller
We will now examine how the female advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The following chart shows the men and women's life expectancies at the time of birth in the US from 1790-2014. Two areas stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both men as well as women in the US live a lot, much longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used be quite small however, it has increased significantly over the course of the last century.

You can verify that the points you've listed are applicable to other countries that have information by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.