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Why do women have longer lives 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. Why do women live so longer than men and how have these advantages gotten bigger over time? The evidence is sketchy and we're only able to provide limited solutions. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women have longer life spans than men, However, we're not sure how strong the relative contribution to each of these variables is.

We are aware that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However this isn't due to the fact that certain 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, 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, every country is above the diagonal parity line ; which means that in every country that a baby girl can be expected to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that, while the advantage for women exists everywhere, the difference between countries is huge. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the difference is just half an hour.

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The advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was lower in countries with higher incomes that it is today.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US from 1790 until 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both genders in the United States live longer than they were a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور there is a widening gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be extremely small however it increased dramatically in the past century.

When you click on the option "Change country from the chart, check that these two points apply to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.