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Why are women living longer than men?

Analisa Wingfield (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 live much longer than men today, and why is this difference growing in the past? The evidence is limited and we only have incomplete answers. While we are aware that there are biological, behavioral and environmental factors which play a significant role in the longevity of women over males, we aren't sure the extent to which each factor plays a role.

In spite of the weight, we know that at least a portion of the reason women live longer than men and not in the past, has to do with the fact that certain significant non-biological elements have changed. What 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, صبغ الشعر بالاسود 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 - it means that in all nations baby girls can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that although the female advantage exists in all countries, global differences are significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan, the difference is only half a year.

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In rich countries the advantage of women in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancies at the time of birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two things stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both genders living in America are living longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used be quite small however it increased dramatically over the course of the last century.

You can check if the points you've listed are applicable to other countries that have data by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.