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Why do women live longer 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 is the reason women live more than men do today and why has this advantage increased in the past? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not strong enough to make an absolute conclusion. While we are aware that there are biological, العاب زوجية behavioral and environmental factors which play a significant role in the longevity of women over males, it isn't clear how much each one contributes.

In spite of the precise amount of weight, we are aware that at a minimum, the reason why women live longer than men but not in the past, is to do with the fact that several important non-biological aspects have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others are more complicated. 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 all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; this means that in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

Interestingly, العاب زوجية this chart shows that the advantage of women exists in all countries, difference between countries is huge. In Russia women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of just half a year.

In wealthy countries, 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 expectancy when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Both men as well as 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.

The second is that there is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in life expectancy used to be very small, but it grew substantially over the last century.

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