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Why are women living longer than men?

Hassie Blaze (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 are more likely to live longer than men? And how is this difference growing in the past? The evidence is limited and we have only some answers. We know there are biological, psychological and environmental factors that all play a role in women who live longer than males, we aren't sure how much each one contributes.

We have learned that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. However, this is not due to the fact that certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Some are more complex. For example, صبغ الشعر بالاسود 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, all countries are above the diagonal parity line , it means that in all nations a newborn girl can expect to live longer than a new boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that while the female advantage exists across all countries, the cross-country differences are large. In Russia women live for 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.

In countries with high incomes, the female advantage in longevity used to be smaller
Let's look at how the female advantage in longevity has changed with time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both genders in America have longer lives than they were 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is growing: Although the advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was quite small but it has risen significantly over time.

Using the option 'Change country' on the chart, you will be able to check that these two points are also applicable to the other countries having available data: Sweden, France and the UK.