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Why do women live longer than men?

Windy Oxley (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 why has this advantage increased in the past? The evidence isn't conclusive and we're only able to provide incomplete answers. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women are healthier than men; however, we aren't sure how strong the relative contribution to each of these variables is.

It is known that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. But this isn't due to the fact that certain non-biological aspects have changed. What are these changing factors? 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. It is clear that all countries are over the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl in every country can expect to live longer than her brother.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that, while the advantage for women exists in all countries, global differences are significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is less than half a year.

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The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in rich countries than it is now.
Let's now look at how the advantage of women in longevity has changed over time. The next chart plots the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two specific points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Women and men in America live longer than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is a widening gap: علامات الحمل بولد The female advantage in life expectancy used to be very modest but it increased substantially over the last century.

You can confirm that these points are also applicable to other countries with data by selecting the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.12154335506_d1cbcf5d01.jpg