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Why women live longer than men?

Tawanna Cates (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? And why does this benefit increase over time? There isn't much evidence and we have only some answers. While we are aware that there are biological, behavioral as well as environmental factors which all play a part in women who live longer than men, we do not know how much each one contributes.

We have learned that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. But it is not due to the fact that certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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. We can see that all countries are over the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in every country can expect to live longer than her older brother.

This chart illustrates that, although there is a women's advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries are often significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than males; while in Bhutan the difference is less than half each year.

In the richer countries, the female advantage in longevity used to be smaller
Let's look at the way that female advantages in terms of longevity has changed over time. The next chart compares male and female life expectancies at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Both genders in the United States live longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be quite small however it increased dramatically over the course of the last century.

If you select the option "Change country by country' in the chart, you are able to check that these two points apply to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.