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Why are women living longer than men?

Merlin Dunstan (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 longer than men in the present, and why have these advantages gotten bigger over time? There is only limited evidence and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an unambiguous conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; however, we aren't sure how significant the impact to each of these variables is.

Independently of the exact weight, we know that a large portion of the reason why women live longer than men do today and not in the past, is to do with the fact that a number of fundamental non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. 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. We can see that all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; it means that in all nations the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a new boy.1

The chart below shows that while there is a female advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be substantial. In Russia women live for 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.

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In wealthy countries, the female advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
We will now examine how the gender advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two things stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women 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.

Second, صبغ الشعر بالاسود the gap is widening: While the advantage of women in life expectancy was once very small but it has risen significantly in the past.

You can check if these points are also applicable to other countries with data by clicking the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, صبغ الشعر بالاسود France, and Sweden.اعراض-الحمل-بولد-5.jpg