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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Piper Niland (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 longer than men in the present and why does this benefit increase in the past? The evidence is limited and we're only able to provide partial answers. We know there are behavioral, biological as well as environmental factors that play an integral role in women living longer than males, it isn't clear how much each factor contributes.

It is known that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. However, this is not because of certain 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. There are others that are more intricate. For example, العاب زوجية 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, all countries are above the diagonal parity line , this means that in all countries the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a new boy.1

The chart below shows that while there is a female advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be significant. In Russia women have a longer life span than men. In Bhutan the difference is less than half an hour.

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In countries with high incomes, the women's advantage in longevity was smaller
Let's now look at the way that female advantages in life expectancy has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancy at the birth in the US between 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Women and men in the United States live longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be extremely small however, it has increased significantly over the last century.

15566133503.jpgIf you select the option "Change country' on the chart, determine if these two points also apply to the other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.