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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Lona Fawcett (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? And how is this difference growing as time passes? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence isn't sufficient to reach a definitive conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women are healthier than men; however, we aren't sure what the contribution to each of these variables is.

It is known that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. But it is not because of certain biological factors have changed. What are these factors that have changed? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. 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 ابر التخسيس women. We can see that every country is above the diagonal parity line ; this means in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

It is interesting to note that the advantage of women exists in all countries, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the gap is less than half a calendar year.

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In countries with high incomes, the female advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart shows the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two aspects stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women living in America are living longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be extremely small however, it has increased significantly in the past century.

You can verify that these are applicable to other countries with information by clicking on the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.