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Why women live longer than men?

Misty Bronner (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 have a longer life span than men? What is the reason does this benefit increase as time passes? The evidence is limited and we're only able to provide limited answers. We know there are biological, psychological and environmental variables which all play a part in women who live longer than men, we don't know what percentage each factor plays in.

We have learned that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. However this isn't because of certain non-biological factors have changed. These are the factors that 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. We can see that all countries are above the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl in all countries can anticipate to live longer than her older brother.

This graph shows that even though women enjoy an advantage in all countries, the differences across countries could be significant. In Russia women have a longer life span than men; in Bhutan the difference is just half one year.

The advantage for women in life expectancy was much lower in rich countries than it is today.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart plots the life expectancy of males and females at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two areas stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. Both men and 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.

The gap is growing: Although the advantage of women in life expectancy used to be very small however, it has grown significantly in the past.

By selecting 'Change Country in the chart, ابر التخسيس ( determine if these two points are applicable to other countries that have available data: ابر التخسيس Sweden, France and the UK.