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Why do women live longer than men?

Armand Lim (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 longer than men, and why does this benefit increase over time? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to reach an unambiguous conclusion. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; however, تحاميل مهبلية we do not know how much the influence of each of these factors is.

Independently of the exact amount, we can say that a large portion of the reason why women live so much longer than men in the present and not previously, has to be due to the fact that a number of important non-biological aspects have changed. These factors are changing. 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. It is clear that every country is above the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl from any country can expect to live longer than her brother.

This chart shows that, although there is a women's advantage across all countries, differences between countries can be significant. In Russia women are 10 years older than men, while in Bhutan the gap is just half an hour.

In countries with high incomes, the advantage of women in longevity was smaller
We will now examine how the advantage of women in longevity has changed with time. The chart below illustrates the men and women's life expectancies when they were born in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two things stand out.

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

Second, there's an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be extremely small, but it grew substantially in the past century.

You can check if these principles are also applicable to other countries with data by selecting the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and تحاميل مهبلية Sweden.