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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 longer than men in the present, and why have these advantages gotten bigger over time? The evidence isn't conclusive and we only have incomplete solutions. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral as well as environmental factors which play a significant role in women's longevity more than men, we do not know how much each one contributes.

We know that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. However it is not because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. These factors are changing. 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, 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 above the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl in every country can anticipate to live longer than her brothers.

This graph shows that although there is a women's advantage in all countries, the differences across countries could be significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half one year.

In rich countries the women's advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's now look at the way that female advantages in longevity has changed with time. The chart below shows gender-based and female-specific life expectancy at the birth in the US during the period 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. Men and women in the US are living much, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is widening: اوضاع الجماع While the female advantage in life expectancy was tiny It has significantly increased with time.

1 year agoYou can confirm that the points you've listed are applicable to other countries with data by selecting the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.