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Why do women live longer than men?

Danny Arias (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. Why do women live more than men do today and how does this benefit increase in the past? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn't sufficient to reach a definitive conclusion. Although we know that there are behavioral, biological and environmental variables that all play a role in the longevity of women over males, we aren't sure how much each factor contributes.

In spite of the precise amount, we can say that a large portion of the reason why women live so much longer than men today however not as previously, is to be due to the fact that a number of fundamental non-biological factors have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, اضيق وضعية للجماع 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 every country is over the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl in every country can be expected to live for longer than her brother.

It is interesting to note that although the female advantage is present everywhere, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women live for 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the gap is less that half a year.

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In rich countries the longevity advantage for women was smaller
Let's examine how the advantage of women in terms of longevity has changed over time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two things stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Both genders in America have longer lives than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be extremely small however it increased dramatically in the past century.

You can confirm that these points are also applicable to other countries that have data by clicking the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.32455078503_f790d6a32f.jpg