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Why do women live longer than men?

Earnest Sawtell (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 have a longer life span than men? Why does this benefit increase as time passes? The evidence is sketchy and we only have some answers. While we are aware that there are biological, behavioral and environmental factors which play a significant role in the longevity of women over men, we don't know how much each one contributes.

In spite of the precise number of pounds, we know that at least part of the reason women live so much longer than men, but not in the past, is to do with the fact that some key non-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. Other are more complicated. 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, صبغ الشعر بالاسود 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 line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl from any country can expect to live longer than her younger brother.

This graph shows that even though women enjoy an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries can be substantial. In Russia women have a longer life span than men, while in Bhutan the difference is just half one year.

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In the richer countries, the advantage of women in longevity was not as great.
Let's examine how the advantage of women in longevity has changed with time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancy at the birth in the US between 1790 to 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women in America have longer lives than they used to 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 terms of life expectancy used be extremely small however it increased dramatically over the course of the last century.

You can confirm that the points you've listed are applicable to other countries with data by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, صبغ الشعر بالاسود France, and Sweden.