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Why women live longer than men?

Leandro Tilton (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 reason why women are more likely to live longer than men? What is the reason is this difference growing over time? There isn't much evidence and we're left with only incomplete answers. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; but we don't know exactly how significant the impact to each of these variables is.

51012986700_eb0e25c7aa.jpgWe know that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. But it is not because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Certain 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 you can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line , which means that in every country the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

The chart below shows that even though women enjoy an advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be significant. In Russia women live 10 years more than males. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.

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The advantage women had in life expectancy was smaller in developed countries than it is today.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart plots the male and female lifespans at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two distinct points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both genders in America live longer than they did 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 life expectancy used to be very modest, علامات الحمل بولد but it grew substantially in the past century.

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