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Why do women live longer than men?

Wilford Tufnell (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 makes women live longer than men in the present and how does this benefit increase in the past? There isn't much evidence and we only have incomplete solutions. While we are aware that there are biological, psychological and environmental variables that all play a role in women who live longer than males, we aren't sure what percentage each factor plays in.

We are aware that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. However, this is not due to the fact that certain biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Other 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 that in all countries baby girls can expect to live longer than a new boy.1

This graph shows that although women have an advantage across all countries, differences between countries can be substantial. In Russia women are 10 years older than men, while in Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

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The female advantage in life expectancy was less in rich countries than it is today.
Let's examine how the female advantage in terms of longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Men and علامات الحمل بولد women in America live longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is widening: While the advantage of women in life expectancy used to be quite small but it has risen significantly with time.

You can confirm that these are applicable to other countries that have data by selecting the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.