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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. What's the main reason women are more likely to live longer than men? What is the reason does this benefit increase as time passes? The evidence is limited and we're only able to provide incomplete solutions. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; however, we do not know how strong the relative contribution of each factor is.

We are aware that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. But this is not because of certain biological factors have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and 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. As we can see, all countries are above the diagonal parity line - which means that in every country the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a new boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that the advantage of women exists in all countries, difference between countries is huge. In Russia women have a longer life span than men; in Bhutan the gap is less than half a year.

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In wealthy countries, the longevity advantage for women was previously smaller.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart shows the life expectancy of males and females when they were born in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two areas stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Men and women in the US live much, كيفية ممارسة العلاقة الزوجية فى الاسلام much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in life expectancy used be very modest however it increased dramatically over the last century.

You can confirm that these principles are also applicable to other countries that have data by selecting the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.