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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Merry Piscitelli (2022-04-19)


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. Why do women live so more than men do today and how have these advantages gotten bigger over time? The evidence is limited and we only have incomplete solutions. Although we know that there are biological, psychological as well as environmental factors that play an integral role in the longevity of women over males, we aren't sure how much each one contributes.

We have learned that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. However, this is not due to the fact that certain biological or افضل كريم للشعر non-biological factors have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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. As we can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line ; which means that in every country the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart illustrates that, although there is a women's advantage in all countries, the differences across countries could be significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than males; while in Bhutan the gap is less than half an hour.

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The advantage of women in life expectancy was less in the richer countries as compared to the present.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart plots male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Women and men 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.

32455078503_f790d6a32f.jpgSecond, there's an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in life expectancy used to be very small however it increased dramatically in the past century.

If you select the option "Change country by country' in the chart, you will be able to determine if these two points apply to other countries that have available information: Sweden, France and the UK.