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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Ferne Sisk (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 makes women live much longer than men today, and why does this benefit increase in the past? There is only limited evidence and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an absolute conclusion. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; However, we're not sure how much the influence to each of these variables is.

We are aware that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. But it is not because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. The factors changing are numerous. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are others that are more intricate. 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.

maxresdefault-1-47.jpgEverywhere 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 over the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in every country can be expected to live for longer than her older brother.

This chart illustrates that, although women have an advantage across all countries, differences between countries are often significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is less than half a calendar year.

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In wealthy countries, the advantage of women in longevity was not as great.
Let's look at how the gender advantage in longevity has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the men and women's life expectancies at the birth in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.

First, العاب زوجية there is an upward trend. Men as well as women in the US have a much longer life span longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be very modest, العاب زوجية but it grew substantially over the course of the last century.

It is possible to verify that these points are also applicable to other countries that have data by clicking on the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.