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Why do women 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 more than men do today, and why have these advantages gotten bigger in the past? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not sufficient to reach an unambiguous conclusion. We know there are biological, behavioral and صبغ الشعر بالاسود environmental variables that all play a role in women's longevity more than men, we don't know how much each factor contributes.

Independently of the exact amount of weight, we are aware that at least a portion of the reason women live so much longer than men in the present however not as in the past, has to be due to the fact that some significant non-biological elements have changed. What are the factors that 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. It is clear that all countries are over the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl from every country could expect to live longer than her older brother.

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

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The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in developed countries that it is today.
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart plots the life expectancy of males and females when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two things stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Both genders in America live longer than they were 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is increasing: While the female advantage in terms of life expectancy was tiny, it has increased substantially over time.

7 months agoUsing the option 'Change country in the chart, check that these two points are also applicable to other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.