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Why women live longer than men?

Sabine Biaggini (2022-04-20)

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 why women have a longer life span than men? Why does this benefit increase over time? The evidence is sketchy and we only have partial solutions. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral as well as environmental factors that play an integral role in women's longevity more than males, we aren't sure what percentage each factor plays in.

We know that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. But it is not because of certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. For كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور 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, كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور 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. As you can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line ; this means that in all countries the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a new boy.1

This chart illustrates that, while there is a female advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be substantial. In Russia women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half a year.

The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in developed countries than it is today.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart shows the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two things stand out.

First, there's an upward trend: Men and women in the US are living much, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

There is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be extremely small however it increased dramatically over the last century.

You can check if these principles are also applicable to other countries that have information by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.