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Why are women living longer than men?

Sabine Biaggini (2022-04-20)


49942537131_fdeeaf6cd2.jpgEverywhere 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 in the present, and why has this advantage increased in the past? The evidence isn't conclusive and we're left with only limited solutions. We know there are behavioral, biological, and environmental factors that play an integral role in women's longevity more than males, it isn't clear the extent to which each factor plays a role.

We know that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. But, this is not because of certain biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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.

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 every country is above the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in all countries can anticipate to live longer than her younger brother.

This chart illustrates that, while there is a female advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be substantial. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the difference is less than half an hour.

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The advantage women had in terms of life expectancy was lower in countries with higher incomes than it is today.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The following chart shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two things stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Both genders in America live longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: علامات الحمل بولد While the advantage of women in life expectancy used to be very small It has significantly increased with time.

You can check if these points are also applicable to other countries with data by selecting the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.