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Why do women live longer than men?

Cathryn Richter (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? There is only limited evidence and the evidence isn't sufficient to draw a definitive conclusion. Although we know that there are behavioral, ابر التخسيس biological, and environmental factors that all play a role in women's longevity more than males, ابر التخسيس we aren't sure how much each one contributes.

50362981788_8b5c58902e.jpgIndependently of the exact amount, we can say that at a minimum, the reason women live longer than men in the present, but not previously, is to relate to the fact that some fundamental non-biological factors have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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 over the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl from any country can anticipate to live longer than her brother.

This chart shows that, while there is a female advantage in all countries, the differences across countries could be significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men; in Bhutan the difference is less than half a year.

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In countries with high incomes, the female advantage in longevity was smaller
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The chart below shows men and women's life expectancies at birth in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

There is an upward trend. Women and men in America have longer lives 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 widening: While the female advantage in life expectancy used to be quite small however, it has grown significantly over time.

You can check if the points you've listed are applicable to other countries with data by clicking the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.