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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Sabine Biaggini (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 in the present and how is this difference growing over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an informed conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women are healthier than men; but we don't know exactly what the contribution to each of these variables is.

In spite of the precise weight, we know that at a minimum, the reason women live longer than men do today however not as in the past, is to relate to the fact that a number of key non-biological factors have changed. What are these new factors? Some are well known and كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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. We can see that all countries are over the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl in every country can be expected to live for longer than her brothers.

Interestingly, this chart shows that the advantage of women exists in all countries, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the difference is less than half an hour.

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In countries with high incomes, the women's advantage in longevity used to be smaller
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Women and men in America live longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy was once very small but it has risen significantly over time.

You can verify that these are applicable to other countries with information by clicking on the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.