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Why are women living longer than men?

Vince Ornelas (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 women live longer than men? And how does this benefit increase as time passes? The evidence isn't conclusive and we're left with only some solutions. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; however, we do not know how significant the impact of each one of these factors is.

We are aware that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. However, this is not due to the fact that certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Certain are more complicated. For example, تحاميل مهبلية 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. We can see that every country is above the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl in all countries can be expected to live for longer than her older brother.

The chart below shows that although women have an advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be substantial. In Russia women are 10 years older than men, while in Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

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In wealthy countries, the advantage of women in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US in the years 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men as well as women in the US have a much longer life span longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be extremely small but it increased substantially over the course of the last century.

If you select the option "Change country from the chart, you will be able to confirm that the two points are also applicable to other countries that have available data: Sweden, France and the UK.