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Why do women live longer than men?

Hannah Wynkoop (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 makes women live more than men do today and how have these advantages gotten bigger over time? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an unambiguous conclusion. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; however, we aren't sure how much the influence of each of these factors is.

It is known that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However it is not due to the fact that certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, اوضاع الجماع 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, اوضاع الجماع 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 diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl in every country can be expected to live for longer than her younger brother.

It is interesting to note that, while the advantage for women exists everywhere, the difference between countries is huge. In Russia women live for 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of only half a year.

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The female advantage in life expectancy was less in rich countries than it is now.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart shows the male and female lifespans at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two areas stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Men and women in the US live a lot, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very modest, but it grew substantially over the course of the last century.

You can check if these are applicable to other countries with data by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.