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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. Why do women live so longer than men and why is this difference growing in the past? The evidence is limited and we're left with only limited solutions. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; however, we aren't sure what the contribution of each factor is.

Independently of the exact weight, علامات الحمل بولد we know that at a minimum, the reason why women live so much longer than men do today, but not in the past, has to do with the fact that several key non-biological factors have changed. What are these new factors? 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. It is clear that all countries are above the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl from any country can anticipate to live longer than her brothers.

This chart shows that, although there is a women's advantage everywhere, cross-country differences are often significant. In Russia women are 10 years older than men; in Bhutan the difference is just half each year.

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The advantage for women in terms of life expectancy was lower in countries with higher incomes than it is today.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Women and men living in America are living longer than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used be quite small however, it has increased significantly over the course of the last century.

You can verify that these principles are also applicable to other countries with data by clicking the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and علامات الحمل بولد Sweden.