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Why are women living longer than men?

Charla Deboer (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 have a longer life span than men? And why is this difference growing over time? The evidence is limited and we're only able to provide incomplete answers. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women have longer lives than men, However, we're not sure how strong the relative contribution of each factor is.

We have learned that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. But this isn't because of certain non-biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Other 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, علامات الحمل بولد 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 every country is over the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl from any country can be expected to live for longer than her older brother.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that although the female advantage exists everywhere, the country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women are 10 years older than males; while in Bhutan the difference is just half a year.

The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in developed countries that it is today.
Let's look at how the advantage of women in longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two aspects stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women in America have longer lives than they were a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is widening: While the female advantage in terms of life expectancy was extremely small It has significantly increased over time.

You can check if these principles are also applicable to other countries that have data by selecting the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.