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Why do women 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. Why do women live longer than men in the present and how have these advantages gotten bigger over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to support an unambiguous conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, psychological and environmental variables which all play a part in the longevity of women over men, we don't know what percentage each factor plays in.

In spite of the precise amount of weight, we are aware that a large portion of the reason why women live longer than men do today but not in the past, is to have to do with the fact that certain important non-biological aspects 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.

tafsiribnukatsirmuhaqqoq001-110113010227Everywhere 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 every country is above the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl from every country could be expected to live for longer than her brother.

Interestingly, this chart shows that the advantage of women exists everywhere, the country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women are 10 years older than men, علامات الحمل بولد while in Bhutan the gap is less than half one year.

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In the richer countries, the longevity advantage for women was not as great.
Let's now look at how the female advantage in longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US from 1790 until 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women in America have longer lives than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is growing: Although the female advantage in life expectancy used to be quite small, it has increased substantially over time.

When you click on the option "Change country from the chart, you will be able to check that these two points also apply to other countries that have available information: Sweden, France and the UK.