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Why women are more likely to 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's the reason why women are more likely to live longer than men? What is the reason does this benefit increase as time passes? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not strong enough to make an informed conclusion. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; but we don't know exactly how strong the relative contribution of each of these factors is.

Independently of the exact weight, we know that a large portion of the reason women live longer than men today but not previously, is to have to do with the fact that certain significant non-biological elements have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are others 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 women. It is clear that all countries are over the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl from every country could anticipate to live longer than her brother.

Interestingly, this chart shows that although the female advantage exists in all countries, cross-country differences are large. In Russia women live for اضيق وضعية للجماع 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan, the difference is only half a year.

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The advantage for women in life expectancy was much lower in developed countries as compared to the present.
Let's examine how the female advantage in longevity has changed over time. The next chart shows the life expectancy of males and females at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women living in America are living longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be extremely small, but it grew substantially over the last century.

1 year agoBy selecting 'Change Country by country' in the chart, you can confirm that the two points are applicable to the other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.