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Why are women living 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. What's the reason why women have a longer life span than men? Why has this advantage gotten larger over time? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to draw an absolute conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral and environmental variables which all play a part in women who live longer than men, we don't know how much each one contributes.

We have learned that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. But this isn't because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. These variables are evolving. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Certain 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. It is clear that all countries are above the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl from every country could be expected to live for longer than her brother.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that although the female advantage exists everywhere, the difference between countries is huge. In Russia women are 10 years older than men; in Bhutan the difference is just half a year.

The advantage for women in life expectancy was smaller in rich countries than it is now.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart compares male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Women and ماذا يحدث بين الزوجين في الحمام بالصور men in the United States live longer than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be very modest, but it grew substantially over the last century.

1 year agoIf you select the option "Change country' on the chart, you are able to check that these two points apply to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.