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Why women live longer than men?

Cathryn Richter (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 women have a longer life span than men? What is the reason has this advantage gotten larger as time passes? The evidence isn't conclusive and we only have limited answers. While we are aware that there are biological, behavioral and environmental factors which all play a part in the longevity of women over men, we do not know how much each factor contributes.

In spite of the precise weight, we know that at least a portion of the reason why women live so much longer than men in the present and not in the past, has to do with the fact that a number of 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. Certain 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, 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 over the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl in every country can expect to live longer than her brothers.

The chart below shows that even though women enjoy an advantage everywhere, cross-country differences are often significant. In Russia women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

In rich countries the longevity advantage for women was previously smaller.
Let's look at how the advantage of women in longevity has changed over time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancies at birth in the US from 1790 until 2014. Two specific points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Women and صبغ الشعر بالاسود 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 growing: Although the advantage of women in life expectancy was very small but it has risen significantly in the past.

You can verify that these principles are also applicable to other countries that have data by selecting the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.