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Why are women living 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 is the reason women have a longer life span than men? What is the reason the advantage has grown in the past? We only have partial evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to support an informed conclusion. We know there are biological, psychological, and environmental factors which all play a part in the longevity of women over males, it isn't clear how much each one contributes.

We have learned that women live longer than men, regardless of weight. However it is not because of certain non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. For صبغ الشعر بالاسود 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 we can see, all countries are above the diagonal line of parity - this means in all countries baby girls can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

This chart shows that, even though women enjoy an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries can be significant. In Russia women have a longer life span than men, while in Bhutan the difference is just half one year.

In rich countries the female advantage in longevity used to be smaller
Let's now look at the way that female advantages in terms of longevity has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the men and women's life expectancies at birth in the US in the years 1790-2014. Two things stand out.

There is an upward trend. and women in the US have a much longer life span longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

There is a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be quite small however, it has increased significantly during the last century.

You can check if 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 Sweden.