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Why are women living longer than men?

Sharyn Ledesma (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? And how is this difference growing over time? The evidence is sketchy and we have only partial answers. We know there are biological, behavioral as well as environmental factors that play an integral role in women who live longer than males, we aren't sure what percentage each factor plays in.

We are aware that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. However this isn't due to the fact that certain biological factors 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. We can see that every country is above the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl in every country can be expected to live for longer than her brother.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that, while the advantage for women exists in all countries, كيفية ممارسة العلاقة الزوجية فى الاسلام global differences are significant. In Russia, women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of only half a year.

The advantage for women in life expectancy was less in countries with higher incomes than it is today.
Let's now look at how the advantage of women in life expectancy has changed over time. The following chart shows the men and women's life expectancies at the time of birth in the US between 1790-2014. Two distinct features stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both men and women in the US are living much, much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is widening: While the advantage of women in life expectancy used to be very small however, it has grown significantly over time.

When you click on the option "Change country from the chart, you can check that these two points also apply to the other countries having available information: Sweden, France and the UK.