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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Vilma Santora (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 live longer than men? And how is this difference growing over time? The evidence is limited and we're left with only some solutions. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that play an integral role in women's longevity more than men, we do not know how much each one contributes.

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 aspects have changed. What are the factors that are changing? 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 تحاميل مهبلية women. As we can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line - this means in all countries baby girls can expect to live longer than a newborn boy.1

This graph shows that even though women enjoy an advantage across all countries, differences between countries could be significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the difference is just half each year.

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The advantage of women in life expectancy was less in the richer countries than it is now.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The following chart shows the gender-based and female-specific life expectancy at the birth in the US during the period 1790 until 2014. Two points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Men as well as women in the US live a lot, much longer today than a century 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 very small, it has increased substantially in the past.

You can confirm that these principles are also applicable to other countries that have information by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.