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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Wilford Tufnell (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 makes women live more than men do today and why is this difference growing in the past? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to draw an informed conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women are healthier than men; However, we're not sure how significant the impact of each one of these factors is.

In spite of how much weight, we know that at a minimum, the reason women live so much longer than men in the present but not in the past, has to be due to the fact that some key non-biological factors have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. 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 we can see, all countries are above the diagonal line of parity - this means in all countries the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart illustrates that, even though women enjoy an advantage everywhere, cross-country differences could be significant. In Russia, women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the difference is less that half a year.

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In rich countries the women's advantage in longevity was not as great.
Let's look at the way that female advantages in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart plots the male and صبغ الشعر بالاسود female lifespans at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two aspects stand out.

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

Second, the gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy was tiny, it has increased substantially over time.

By selecting 'Change Country by country' in the chart, you will be able to determine if these two points also apply to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.