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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 main reason women have a longer life span than men? And why is this difference growing in the past? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to draw an informed conclusion. We know there are biological, psychological and environmental variables that all play a role in women's longevity more than males, it isn't clear what percentage each factor plays in.

In spite of the precise number of pounds, we know that at least part of the reason women live longer than men today, but not previously, is to have to do with the fact that several important non-biological aspects have changed. What are these factors that have changed? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Certain 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 you can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line - this means in all countries the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a new boy.1

This chart shows that, although women have an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries can be significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half each year.

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In the richer countries, the advantage of women in longevity was not as great.
Let's look at how the female advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The chart below shows men and women's life expectancies at the time of birth in the US from 1790-2014. Two things stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. Men and women in the US have a much longer life span longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is getting wider: Although the female advantage in life expectancy used to be tiny, صبغ الشعر بالاسود it has increased substantially over time.

By selecting 'Change Country' on the chart, you are able to verify that these two points apply to the other countries with available information: صبغ الشعر بالاسود Sweden, France and the UK.