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Why women live longer than men?

Lona Fawcett (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 have a longer life span than men? And how has this advantage gotten larger in the past? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence isn't sufficient to draw an unambiguous conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; however, we do not know how strong the relative contribution of each of these factors is.

We know that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. However, this is not because of certain biological factors 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, 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 above the diagonal parity line - this means that in all countries the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a new boy.1

This graph shows that even though women enjoy an advantage in all countries, the differences across countries are often significant. In Russia women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the gap is less that half a year.

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In countries with high incomes, the advantage of women in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's look at how the advantage of women in terms of longevity has changed over time. The next chart shows the male and female lifespans at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two distinct features stand out.

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

And ابر التخسيس second, ابر التخسيس there is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in life expectancy used to be very modest, but it grew substantially in the past century.

You can confirm that the points you've listed are applicable to other countries with data by clicking the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.