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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Aurora Salter (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? And how is this difference growing in the past? There isn't much evidence and we only have limited answers. Although we know that there are biological, psychological and environmental variables that play an integral role in women's longevity more than men, we do not know what percentage each factor plays in.

It is known that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. But this isn't because of certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. What are these factors that have changed? 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, so advances in medicine that reduced the long-term health burden from infectious diseases, especially for العاب زوجية 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 every country is over the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl in every country can anticipate to live longer than her brother.

The chart below shows that although women have an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries could be significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men; in Bhutan the gap is just half an hour.

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In countries with high incomes, the female advantage in longevity was smaller
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The following chart shows the gender-based and female-specific life expectancy when they were born in the US from 1790 until 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Women and men in America have longer lives than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an ever-widening gap: العاب زوجية female advantage in life expectancy used be very modest, but it grew substantially during the last century.

Using the option 'Change country in the chart, you can check that these two points are also applicable to other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.