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Why do women have longer lives 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 makes women live longer than men and علامات الحمل بولد how have these advantages gotten bigger over time? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not sufficient to draw a definitive conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; but we don't know exactly how much the influence of each of these factors is.

We know that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. But it is not due to the fact that certain 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. Some are more complex. 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 ; which means that in every country baby girls can expect to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart illustrates that, although there is a women's advantage across all countries, differences between countries are often significant. In Russia women are 10 years older than men, while in Bhutan the gap is just half one year.

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The advantage women had in life expectancy was less in developed countries than it is now.
Let's examine how the gender advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The chart below shows gender-based and female-specific life expectancy at birth in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two areas stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Men and women in the US are living much, much 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 ever-widening gap: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very small however it increased dramatically over the last century.

When you click on the option "Change country by country' in the chart, you will be able to confirm that the two points also apply to other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.