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Why are women living longer than men?

Jetta Tedesco (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 why women live longer than men? And how does this benefit increase over time? The evidence isn't conclusive and we have only some solutions. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that all play a role in the longevity of women over males, it isn't clear how much each one contributes.

2 years agoIn spite of the weight, we know that at least a portion of the reason women live longer than men in the present and not in the past, is to do with the fact that certain fundamental 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. Other are more complicated. 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 every country is above the diagonal parity line - this means that in all countries baby girls can expect to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart shows that, although there is a women's advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be significant. In Russia women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.

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The female advantage in life expectancy was less in developed countries that it is today.
Let's examine the way that female advantages in longevity has changed with time. The next chart plots the male and female lifespans at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. Men and افضل كريم للشعر 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 second is that there is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in life expectancy used to be extremely small, but it grew substantially over the course of the last century.

It is possible to verify that these are applicable to other countries with data by clicking on the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.