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Why do women live longer than men?

Jett Alvarado (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 women live longer than men? What is the reason has this advantage gotten larger over time? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to support a definitive conclusion. We know there are behavioral, biological, and environmental factors that all play a role in women's longevity more than men, we do not know how much each one contributes.

In spite of the amount, we can say that at least part of the reason women live so much longer than men do today but not previously, is to do with 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. Others 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 تحاميل مهبلية 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 above the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl from every country could be expected to live for longer than her brothers.

This chart shows that, although women have an advantage everywhere, cross-country differences could be significant. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.

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In countries with high incomes, the women's advantage in longevity was not as great.
Let's examine how the advantage of women in terms of longevity has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the gender-based and female-specific life expectancy at birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two areas stand out.

First, there's an upward trend: Men as well as women in the US have a much longer life span 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 increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be extremely small however, it has increased significantly over the course of the last century.

You can check if the points you've listed are applicable to other countries with data by clicking the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.