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Why do women live longer than men?

Lilliana Kobayashi (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 live longer than men? Why the advantage has grown in the past? There is only limited evidence and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an absolute conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women have longer life spans than men, however, we do not know what the contribution to each of these variables is.

tafsiribnukatsirmuhaqqoq001-110113010227We are aware that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. However this isn't because of certain biological factors have changed. What are these factors that have changed? 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 every country is above the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl in all countries can expect to live longer than her brothers.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that the advantage of women is present everywhere, difference between countries is huge. In Russia, women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is less than half a calendar year.

The advantage women had in life expectancy was much lower in the richer countries as compared to the present.
Let's now look at the way that female advantages in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart shows the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

There is an upward trend. as well as women in the US have a much longer life span 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 advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was very small however, it has grown significantly with time.

By selecting 'Change Country from the chart, you are able to check that these two points are applicable to other countries with available information: Sweden, تحاميل مهبلية France and the UK.