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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. What's the reason women have a longer life span than men? And how has this advantage gotten larger as time passes? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an unambiguous conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; however, we aren't sure how strong the relative contribution of each one of these factors is.

In spite of the amount of weight, we are aware that at least part of the reason why women live longer than men in the present and not in the past, is to relate to the fact that some significant non-biological elements have changed. What are the factors that are changing? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Some are more complex. 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 - which means that in every country the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart illustrates that, while there is a female advantage across all countries, differences between countries can be substantial. In Russia, women live 10 years more than males. In Bhutan there is a difference of only half a year.

In the richer countries, the longevity advantage for women was not as great.
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The chart below illustrates the gender-based and female-specific life expectancy at birth in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. as well as women in the US are living much, اضيق وضعية للجماع [] much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is increasing: While the advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was tiny but it has risen significantly over time.

By selecting 'Change Country from the chart, you can confirm that the two points apply to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.