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Why are women living longer 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 more than men do today and why has this advantage increased in the past? There isn't much evidence and we're left with only limited answers. Although we know that there are biological, psychological and environmental variables that all play a role in women living longer than men, we don't know how much each factor contributes.

It is known that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. But this 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, 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 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 means that a newborn girl from every country could anticipate to live longer than her brother.

It is interesting to note that while the female advantage exists everywhere, the country-specific differences are huge. In Russia, women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the difference is less that half a year.

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The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in developed countries as compared to the present.
Let's now look at how the female advantage in terms of longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows the gender-based and female-specific life expectancy at the birth in the US from 1790-2014. Two aspects stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. and ماذا يحدث بين الزوجين في الحمام بالصور women in the US are living much, much longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very small however it increased dramatically over the last century.

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