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Why women live longer than men?

Christi Mealmaker (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 longer than men and how is this difference growing over time? The evidence is sketchy and we're left with only partial answers. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women have longer life spans than men, however, we do not know how strong the relative contribution of each one of these factors is.

Independently of the exact number of pounds, we know that a large portion of the reason women live longer than men do today however not as previously, has to do with the fact that certain key non-biological factors have changed. These are the factors that are changing. 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.

random-131215184520-phpapp02-thumbnail-3Everywhere 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 every country is over the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl in every country can anticipate to live longer than her older brother.

This chart shows that, although there is a women's advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the gap is just half each year.

The advantage for women in life expectancy was much lower in developed countries as compared to the present.
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the male and افضل شامبو وبلسم female life expectancies when they were born in the US in the years 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

First, there's an upward trend: Men and women in the US live a lot, much 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 increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in life expectancy used to be very modest however it increased dramatically in the past century.

By selecting 'Change Country in the chart, you can verify that these two points also apply to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.