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Why are women living longer than men?

Aurora Salter (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 are more likely to live longer than men? And why the advantage has grown over time? The evidence is sketchy and we have only partial solutions. While we are aware that there are behavioral, biological and environmental factors which all play a part in women who live longer than males, it isn't clear what percentage each factor plays in.

It is known that women live longer than men, regardless of weight. But this isn't because of certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. What are these new factors? 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 علامات الحمل بولد women. As you can see, all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; which means that in every country that a baby girl can be expected to live for longer than a new boy.1

The chart below shows that even though women enjoy an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries can be substantial. In Russia, women live 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan, the difference is only half a year.

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The advantage for women in terms of life expectancy was lower in developed countries than it is today.
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The following chart shows the men and women's life expectancies when they were born in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two areas stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Both genders living in America are living longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is growing: Although the female advantage in terms of life expectancy was very small, it has increased substantially over time.

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