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Why 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's the reason why women are more likely to live longer than men? And how does this benefit increase over time? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to draw an informed conclusion. We know there are behavioral, biological, and environmental factors that all play a role in women living longer than men, we don't know how much each one contributes.

In spite of the precise number of pounds, we know that at a minimum, the reason why women live longer than men today but not in the past, has to be due to the fact that several important non-biological aspects have changed. The factors changing are numerous. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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 every country is over the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl in every country can expect to live longer than her older brother.

Interestingly, this chart shows that the advantage of women exists everywhere, the global differences are significant. In Russia women are 10 years older than men. In Bhutan the gap is just half an hour.

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In countries with high incomes, the female advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. and women in the US live much, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

There is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used be very small however, it has increased significantly over the last century.

By selecting 'Change Country from the chart, اضيق وضعية للجماع check that these two points are applicable to the other countries having available information: Sweden, اضيق وضعية للجماع France and the UK.