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Why do women live longer than men?

Iva Unger (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 is the reason women have a longer life span than men? And how does this benefit increase over time? We have only a small amount of evidence and العاب زوجية the evidence is not sufficient to draw an informed conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women are healthier than men; but we don't know exactly how strong the relative contribution of each factor is.

We are aware that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. However this is not due to the fact that certain non-biological aspects have changed. These 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. As you can see, every country is above the diagonal line of parity - this means in all countries baby girls can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

Interestingly, this chart shows that, while the advantage for women is present everywhere, global differences are significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the difference is less than half each year.

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In the richer countries, the women's advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US in the years 1790 until 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. Both men as well as women in the US live a lot, much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: While the female advantage in terms of life expectancy was quite small however, it has grown significantly with time.

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