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Why are women living 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 much longer than men today, and why have these advantages gotten bigger over time? There isn't much evidence and we're left with only incomplete solutions. While we are aware that there are biological, behavioral and environmental factors that all play a role in women who live longer than males, we aren't sure how much each factor contributes.

It is known that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. But, this is not because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. What are these factors that have changed? 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 survivors, صبغ الشعر بالاسود 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. As we can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line ; which means that in every country baby girls can expect to live longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart shows that, even though women enjoy an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries can be significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men, while in Bhutan the gap is less than half an hour.

The female advantage in life expectancy was smaller in countries with higher incomes as compared to the present.
Let's look at how the advantage of women in longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows the gender-based and صبغ الشعر بالاسود female-specific life expectancy at the birth in the US between 1790 to 2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Men and women living in America are living longer than they were a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be quite small, but it grew substantially during the last century.

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