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Why do women live longer than men?

Cassandra Benoit (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 why is this difference growing in the past? There isn't much evidence and we're left with only incomplete solutions. Although we know that there are behavioral, biological and environmental factors which play a significant role in women's longevity more than men, we don't know how much each factor contributes.

In spite of the amount, we can say that at a minimum, the reason why women live so much longer than men today and not in the past, is to relate to the fact that several fundamental non-biological factors have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Other 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, العاب زوجية 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. It is clear that all countries are over the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl from any country can expect to live longer than her brothers.

This chart illustrates that, while there is a female advantage in all countries, the differences across countries could be significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the gap is less than half an hour.

The advantage for women in life expectancy was much lower in the richer countries than it is today.
Let's now look at how the female advantage in longevity has changed over time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two things stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. Men as well as women in the US live a lot, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very small but it increased substantially over the course of the last century.

If you select the option "Change country from the chart, determine if these two points are applicable to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.