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Why are women living longer than men?

Cassandra Benoit (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 main reason women live longer than men? What is the reason has this advantage gotten larger as time passes? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn't sufficient to draw an informed conclusion. We know there are behavioral, biological as well as environmental factors which play a significant role in women's longevity more than men, we don't know how much each factor contributes.

It is known that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. But it is not due to the fact that certain 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. There are others 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. It is clear that all countries are above the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl in every country can anticipate to live longer than her older brother.

This graph shows that while there is a female advantage across all countries, differences between countries could be significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than males; while in Bhutan the gap is less than half each year.

The advantage for women in terms of life expectancy was lower in developed countries than it is now.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart plots the male and female lifespans at birth in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two points stand out.

First, كيفية ممارسة العلاقة الزوجية فى الاسلام there is an upward trend. Women and men in America have longer lives 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 an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be quite small, but it grew substantially in the past century.

9 months agoUsing the option 'Change country' on the chart, you can verify that these two points apply to other countries that have available data: Sweden, France and the UK.