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Why do women 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 makes women live much longer than men today and why is this difference growing in the past? The evidence isn't conclusive and we have only some answers. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women have longer life spans than men, however, we do not know how strong the relative contribution to each of these variables is.

It is known that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. However it is not due to the fact that certain biological or non-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 women. We can see that all countries are above the diagonal parity line - this means that in all countries the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a new boy.1

This chart shows that, even though women enjoy an advantage across all countries, differences between countries can be significant. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the difference is less that half a year.

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In the richer countries, the women's advantage in longevity was not as great.
Let's now look at how the gender advantage in terms of longevity has changed over time. The next chart shows the male and كيفية ممارسة العلاقة الزوجية فى الاسلام female lifespans at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two things stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women in the United States live longer than they were 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

There is an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be quite small but it increased substantially in the past century.

If you select the option "Change country by country' in the chart, you can confirm that the two points also apply to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.