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Why do women live longer than men?

Birgit Whitaker (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 is the reason women live longer than men in the present and why has this advantage increased in the past? We only have a few clues and علامات الحمل بولد the evidence isn't strong enough to make an absolute conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women are healthier than men; but we don't know exactly how significant the impact of each one of these factors is.

We know that women live longer than men, regardless of weight. But, this is not due to the fact that certain non-biological factors have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, علامات الحمل بولد 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 - this means in all countries baby girls can expect to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

The chart below shows that although there is a women's advantage in all countries, the differences across countries are often significant. In Russia, women live 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

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In rich countries the female advantage in longevity was smaller
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The following chart shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both genders living in America are living longer than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

There is a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be very modest however it increased dramatically over the last century.

If you select the option "Change country by country' in the chart, you are able to confirm that the two points are applicable to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.