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Why do women live longer than men?

Yvette Bock (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 is the reason women are more likely to live longer than men? Why has this advantage gotten larger over time? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not strong enough to make a definitive conclusion. Although we know that there are behavioral, biological and environmental variables which all play a part in women who live longer than men, we do not know how much each one contributes.

We have learned that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However this isn't 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. Some 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. As we can see, all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; this means in all countries that a baby girl can be expected to live longer than a newborn boy.1

This graph shows that even though women enjoy an advantage in all countries, the differences across countries could be significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than males; while in Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

In countries with high incomes, العاب زوجية the female advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart compares male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two things stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both men as well as women in the US have a much longer life span longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy used to be quite small, it has increased substantially over time.

It is possible to verify that these points are also applicable to other countries that have data by clicking the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.