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Why women are more likely to 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 is the reason women live longer than men and why has this advantage increased in the past? There isn't much evidence and we have only limited solutions. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women have longer life spans than men, however, we do not know how much the influence of each factor is.

We have learned that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. But it is not because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. These variables are evolving. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. 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 العاب زوجية women. We can see that all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; it means that in all nations the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a new boy.1

This chart illustrates that, although there is a women's advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be substantial. In Russia women have a longer life span than men; in Bhutan the gap is less than half a year.

In rich countries the advantage of women in longevity was not as great.
Let's now look at how the gender advantage in longevity has changed over time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two distinct features stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. and 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.

And second, there is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be quite small however, it has increased significantly over the last century.

By selecting 'Change Country in the chart, you are able to check that these two points also apply to other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.