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Why do women live longer than men?

Kelley Wester (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. What is the reason women live longer than men? And why does this benefit increase over time? There isn't much evidence and we only have some answers. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women have longer lives than men, العاب زوجية but we don't know exactly how significant the impact of each factor is.

In spite of the precise amount, we can say that a large portion of the reason why women live so much longer than men do today but not in the past, is to relate to the fact that several significant non-biological elements have changed. What are these new factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Some 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 that in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live longer than a new boy.1

This graph shows that while there is a female advantage across all countries, differences between countries are often significant. In Russia, العاب زوجية women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of only half a year.

In rich countries the longevity advantage for women was not as great.
Let's examine how the female advantage in longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US from 1790 to 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.

There is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be extremely small, but it grew substantially during the last century.

By selecting 'Change Country in the chart, you will be able to check that these two points are applicable to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.