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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Jett Alvarado (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 main reason women are more likely to live longer than men? And why the advantage has grown in the past? There isn't much evidence and we have only partial answers. While we are aware that there are biological, behavioral and environmental variables which all play a part in women's longevity more than males, we aren't sure how much each one contributes.

We have learned that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. However, this is not due to the fact that certain non-biological aspects have changed. What are these new factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are others 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 all countries are over the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl in every country can expect to live longer than her brother.

The chart above shows that, while the advantage for women exists in all countries, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia, women live 10 years more than males. In Bhutan there is a difference of just half a year.

In the richer countries, the women's advantage in longevity was smaller
We will now examine how the gender advantage in longevity has changed over time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Women and افضل كريم للشعر men in the United States live longer than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is widening: While the advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was extremely small but it has risen significantly over time.

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