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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Shawnee Kiley (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 women are more likely to live longer than men? Why the advantage has grown as time passes? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not sufficient to reach an unambiguous conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women have longer life spans than men, but we don't know exactly how strong the relative contribution to each of these variables is.

We are aware that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. However, this is not due to the fact that certain biological factors have changed. What are the factors that are changing? Some are well known and افضل شامبو وبلسم 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. It is clear that all countries are above the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in all countries can anticipate to live longer than her brothers.

The chart above shows that although the female advantage exists in all countries, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the gap is less that half a year.

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In wealthy countries, the longevity advantage for women used to be smaller
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both men and women in the US live much, 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 getting wider: Although the advantage of women in life expectancy was quite small, it has increased substantially over time.

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