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Why are women living longer than men?

Shawnee Kiley (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 main reason women are more likely to live longer than men? And why the advantage has grown in the past? The evidence isn't conclusive and we're only able to provide partial answers. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women have longer lives than men, however, we aren't sure how strong the relative contribution of each of these factors is.

We know that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. But this isn't because of certain biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Certain 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, اوضاع الجماع 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, all countries are above the diagonal line of parity - this means in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live longer than a newborn boy.1

The chart above shows that although the female advantage exists everywhere, the difference between countries is huge. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men; in Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

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In wealthy countries, the advantage of women in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's examine how the advantage of women in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart plots male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two specific points stand out.

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

The gap is growing: Although the female advantage in terms of life expectancy was tiny but it has risen significantly over time.

Using the option 'Change country from the chart, confirm that the two points are applicable to other countries that have available information: Sweden, France and the UK.