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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. Why do women live longer than men, and why is this difference growing over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to support a definitive conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral and environmental variables that all play a role in women's longevity more than men, we do not know what percentage each factor plays in.

Independently of the exact amount, we can say that a large portion of the reason why women live so much longer than men however not as in the past, has to be due to the fact that some significant non-biological elements have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. 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, اضيق وضعية للجماع 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. We can see that all countries are above the diagonal parity line , اضيق وضعية للجماع it means that in all nations the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a new boy.1

It is interesting to note that the advantage of women exists everywhere, the global differences are significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than males; while in Bhutan the difference is just half an hour.

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In rich countries the advantage of women in longevity was smaller
We will now examine how the advantage of women in longevity has changed with time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US during the period 1790-2014. Two distinct points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Both genders in the United States live longer than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is widening: While the advantage of women in life expectancy used to be very small It has significantly increased over time.

If you select the option "Change country by country' in the chart, you will be able to verify that these two points apply to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.