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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Iva Unger (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 longer than men in the present and why have these advantages gotten bigger over time? The evidence is limited and we're left with only incomplete solutions. While we are aware that there are behavioral, biological as well as environmental factors which play a significant role in women who live longer than men, we do not know the extent to which each factor plays a role.

In spite of the precise amount, we can say that a large portion of the reason why women live longer than men do today and not in the past, has to do with the fact that some key non-biological factors have changed. These factors are changing. 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, 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, every country is above the diagonal parity line - which means that in every country a newborn girl can expect to live longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that the advantage of women is present everywhere, cross-country differences are large. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half a year.

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The advantage for women in life expectancy was less in rich countries than it is now.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart plots the life expectancy of males and females when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two specific points stand افضل كريم للشعر out.

There is an upward trend. as well as 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, the gap is widening: افضل كريم للشعر While the female advantage in life expectancy was once tiny but it has risen significantly in the past.

By selecting 'Change Country from the chart, you are able to confirm that the two points are applicable to other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.