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Why are women living longer than men?

Lona Talbott (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 in the present, and why is this difference growing over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence isn't strong enough to make a definitive conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral and environmental factors that all play a role in women's longevity more than males, it isn't clear the extent to which each factor plays a role.

In spite of the amount of weight, we are aware that at least a portion of the reason women live longer than men today, but not previously, is to do with the fact that certain key non-biological factors have changed. What are the factors that are changing? Some are well known and العاب زوجية relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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 العاب زوجية women. It is clear that all countries are above the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl in all countries can anticipate to live longer than her brother.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that the advantage of women exists in all countries, cross-country differences are large. In Russia women have a longer life span than men; in Bhutan the difference is less than half an hour.

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In countries with high incomes, the female advantage in longevity used to be smaller
Let's now look at how the female advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart compares male and female life expectancy at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two distinct features stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Both men as well as 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.

The gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy used to be extremely small however, it has grown significantly with time.

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