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Why do women live longer than men?

Rigoberto Gabbard (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 why is this difference growing over time? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to support an informed conclusion. We know there are biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that play an integral role in women who live longer than males, we aren't sure what percentage each factor plays in.

It is known that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. However it is not due to the fact that certain biological or non-biological factors 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 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 line of parity - which means that in every country baby girls can expect to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that the advantage of women exists everywhere, the country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.

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In wealthy countries, the longevity advantage for women used to be smaller
Let's look at how the gender advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart shows the life expectancy of males and females when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and كيفية ممارسة العلاقة الزوجية فى الاسلام 2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Men and women in the US have a much longer life span longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be extremely small however it increased dramatically in the past century.

If you select the option "Change country from the chart, verify that these two points are applicable to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.