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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Leandro Tilton (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 is the reason women live longer than men? What is the reason is this difference growing as time passes? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn't sufficient to draw an absolute conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral as well as environmental factors that all play a role in women living longer than men, we do not know what percentage each factor plays in.

We know that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However it is not because of 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. Some 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 صبغ الشعر بالاسود 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. As we can see, all countries are above the diagonal line of parity - it means that in all nations the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a new boy.1

It is interesting to note that, while the advantage for women exists across all countries, the cross-country differences are large. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half a year.

4 years ago__S.17__
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The advantage women had in terms of life expectancy was lower in developed countries as compared to the present.
Let's examine how the female advantage in longevity has changed with time. The chart below shows men and women's life expectancies at the birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Women and 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 female advantage in life expectancy was once very small, it has increased substantially over time.

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