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Why do women live longer than men?

Regina Rigsby (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 more than men do today, and why has this advantage increased over time? The evidence isn't conclusive and we're left with only incomplete answers. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; however, we aren't sure how much the influence of each one of these factors is.

3872-11.jpgIt 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 new factors? 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, العاب زوجية 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 in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

The chart above shows that the advantage of women exists in all countries, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia, women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the difference is less that half a year.

The advantage of women in life expectancy was much lower in countries with higher incomes than it is now.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart shows the life expectancy of males and females at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two aspects stand out.

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

There is an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be extremely small however it increased dramatically over the last century.

When you click on the option "Change country by country' in the chart, you will be able to verify that these two points are also applicable to the other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.