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Why do women live longer than men?

Lilliana Kobayashi (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 makes women live more than men do today, and why has this advantage increased over time? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn't sufficient to draw an absolute conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, psychological, and environmental factors which all play a part in the longevity of women over men, we don't know how much each factor contributes.

Independently of the exact number of pounds, we know that at least part of the reason why women live longer than men do today and اضيق وضعية للجماع not in the past, is to be due to the fact that some fundamental non-biological factors have changed. What are these factors that have changed? Some are well known and اضيق وضعية للجماع 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. As we can see, all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; which means that in every country that a baby girl can be expected to live for longer than a new boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that although the female advantage exists everywhere, the difference between countries is huge. In Russia, women live 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.

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In rich countries the longevity advantage for women used to be smaller
Let's look at how the gender advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two aspects stand out.

There is an upward trend: Men and women in the US live a lot, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy used to be extremely small however, it has grown significantly in the past.

It is possible to verify that these principles are also applicable to other countries that have data by clicking the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.32455078503_f790d6a32f.jpg