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Why do women have longer lives 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. What's the reason why women live longer than men? And how is this difference growing in the past? The evidence is sketchy and we only have incomplete solutions. We know there are biological, behavioral as well as environmental factors which all play a part in women living longer than men, we don't know how much each one contributes.

In spite of the weight, we know that a large portion of the reason women live longer than men, but not previously, has to have to do with the fact that a number of important non-biological aspects have changed. These are the factors that 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, صبغ الشعر بالاسود 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 all countries are over the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl in every country can be expected to live for longer than her brother.

This chart illustrates that, while there is a female advantage in all countries, the differences across countries could be significant. In Russia women have a longer life span than men, while in Bhutan the difference is less than half an hour.

In rich countries the women's advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's now look at how the female advantage in longevity has changed over time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancies at the time of birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two aspects stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Women and men in America have longer lives than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in life expectancy used be extremely small but it increased substantially in the past century.

By selecting 'Change Country' on the chart, you will be able to verify that these two points are also applicable to other countries that have available data: Sweden, صبغ الشعر بالاسود France and the UK.