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Why do women live longer than men?

Roma Glaze (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 longer than men in the present, and why does this benefit increase over time? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not sufficient to draw a definitive conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; however, we do not know what the contribution to each of these variables is.

Independently of the exact amount of weight, we are aware that at least part of the reason women live so much longer than men but not previously, is to have to do with the fact that several 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, صبغ الشعر بالاسود 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 implies that a baby girl in every country can be expected to live for longer than her brothers.

This chart illustrates that, although women have an advantage in all countries, the differences across countries could be significant. In Russia, women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the gap is only half a year.

The advantage of women in life expectancy was much lower in rich countries that it is today.
Let's examine how the gender advantage in longevity has changed over time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. Men as well as women in the US live a lot, much longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

There is an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very small, but it grew substantially in the past century.

You can verify that these points are also applicable to other countries with data by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.