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Why do women live longer than men?

Yvette Bock (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 more than men do today and how have these advantages gotten bigger over time? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not strong enough to make a definitive conclusion. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; However, we're not sure how much the influence of each of these factors is.

It is known that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. But this isn't due to the fact that certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. The factors changing are numerous. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues 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.

Diet-large-Cover-banooyeshahr.jpgEverywhere 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, every country is above the diagonal parity line ; this means that in all countries the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a new boy.1

The chart below shows that even though women enjoy an advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be substantial. In Russia women are 10 years older than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half one year.

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The advantage for women in life expectancy was less in rich countries than it is today.
Let's now look at how the gender advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The following chart shows male and اوضاع الجماع female life expectancies when they were born in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Both genders living in America are living longer than they used to 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, it has increased substantially with time.

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