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Why 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. What makes women live more than men do today and how does this benefit increase over time? The evidence is sketchy and we're only able to provide limited solutions. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women are healthier than men; but we don't know exactly how much the influence of each factor is.

Independently of the exact number of pounds, we know that at least a portion of the reason why women live so much longer than men in the present and not in the past, has to do with the fact that several key non-biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? 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 every country is over the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl from any country can be expected to live for longer than her brother.

The chart above shows that, while the advantage for women exists everywhere, the global differences are significant. In Russia women are 10 years older than males; while in Bhutan the gap is less than half an hour.

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In countries with high incomes, the advantage of women in longevity was not as great.
Let's look at the way that female advantages in longevity has changed with time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancy at birth in the US in the years 1790 until 2014. Two areas stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both genders in America live longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is widening: اضيق وضعية للجماع While the advantage of women in life expectancy was once extremely small It has significantly increased with time.

You can confirm that these are applicable to other countries with data by clicking the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.