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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. What's the reason why women are more likely to live longer than men? Why does this benefit increase over time? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an unambiguous conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; but we don't know exactly how strong the relative contribution of each one of these factors is.

In spite of the weight, we know that a large portion of the reason why women live so much longer than men today however not as previously, is to relate to the fact that certain key non-biological factors have changed. What are these factors that have changed? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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, 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 you can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line , which means that in every country the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a newborn boy.1

The chart above shows that, while the advantage for women is present everywhere, cross-country differences are large. In Russia women are 10 years older than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half an hour.

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The advantage for women in life expectancy was less in rich countries than it is today.
Let's examine how the gender advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancy at the birth in the US from 1790 until 2014. Two points stand out.

mqdefault.jpgThe first is that there is an upward trend. Men and women in America have longer lives than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is widening: While the advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was very small, افضل كريم للشعر it has increased substantially over time.

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