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Why do women live longer than men?

Augustina Cotter (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. Why do women live so longer than men in the present and why does this benefit increase over time? There isn't much evidence and we're only able to provide incomplete answers. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women have longer lives than men, However, we're not sure how strong the relative contribution of each factor is.

We know that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. However, this is not because of certain biological or 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. 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 women. It is clear that every country is above the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl in all countries can expect to live longer than her older brother.

This graph shows that although women have an advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be significant. In Russia, كيفية ممارسة العلاقة الزوجية فى الاسلام women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of less that half a year.

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In rich countries the advantage of women in longevity was not as great.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart compares the life expectancy of males and females when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two things stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women in the US live a lot, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

There is a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be very small however it increased dramatically over the course of the last century.

You can verify that the points you've listed are applicable to other countries with information by clicking on the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.