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Why are women living longer than men?

Mellissa Rodman (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 women live longer than men? And how does this benefit increase over time? There is only limited evidence and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an unambiguous conclusion. While we are aware that there are biological, behavioral and environmental factors that play an integral role in women who live longer than men, we don't know the extent to which each factor plays a role.

In spite of the amount, we can say that a large portion of the reason why women live so much longer than men do today however not as in the past, has to have to do with the fact that some key non-biological factors have changed. What are these factors that have changed? Some are well known and كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور ( 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. We can see that all countries are above the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl from every country could be expected to live for longer than her older brother.

This chart illustrates that, although there is a women's advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the gap is less than half a year.

In wealthy countries, the advantage of women in longevity used to be smaller
Let's now look at the way that female advantages in longevity has changed over time. The next chart plots the life expectancy of males and females when they were born in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Men and women in the United States live longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is growing: Although the female advantage in terms of life expectancy was very small, it has increased substantially over time.

If you select the option "Change country in the chart, you are able to confirm that the two points apply to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.