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Why are women living longer than men?

Brandi Falleni (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 have a longer life span than men? Why has this advantage gotten larger over time? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not strong enough to make an unambiguous conclusion. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; however, we aren't sure how much the influence of each of these factors is.

We know that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. But it is not because of certain biological factors have changed. What are the factors that are changing? 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, 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. As you can see, all countries are above the diagonal parity line , this means in all countries that a baby girl can be expected to live longer than a new boy.1

This graph shows that although there is a women's advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be significant. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan, the difference is only half a year.

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In countries with high incomes, the advantage of women in longevity was not as great.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The following chart shows the gender-based and female-specific life expectancy at birth in the US during the period 1790 until 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. Men as well as women in the US have a much longer life span longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used to be very modest but it increased substantially during the last century.

You can confirm that these are applicable to other countries with data by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور Sweden.