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Why do women have longer lives 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 is the reason women live longer than men? What is the reason is this difference growing as time passes? There isn't much evidence and we only have some answers. We know there are biological, behavioral and environmental variables which play a significant role in women who live longer than men, we do not know the extent to which each factor plays a role.

We have learned that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. However this is not due to the fact that certain non-biological aspects have changed. The factors changing are numerous. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Some 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, so advances in medicine that reduced the long-term health burden from infectious diseases, especially for ابر التخسيس 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 above the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl in all countries can anticipate to live longer than her younger brother.

It is interesting to note that while the female advantage is present everywhere, global differences are significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men; in Bhutan the difference is just half a year.

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

First, there is an upward trend. as well as women in the US live much, much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: While the advantage of women in life expectancy was once quite small but it has risen significantly in the past.

When you click on the option "Change country from the chart, you can check that these two points are applicable to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.