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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 and why have these advantages gotten bigger over time? There isn't much evidence and we're only able to provide limited solutions. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women have longer life spans than men, However, we're not sure how strong the relative contribution of each factor is.

We know that women live longer than men, regardless of weight. However this isn't because of certain non-biological factors have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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 صبغ الشعر بالاسود women. As we can see, all countries are above the diagonal line of parity - this means in all countries that a baby girl can be expected to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

This graph shows that even though women enjoy an advantage across all countries, differences between countries can be substantial. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the gap is only half a year.

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In rich countries the advantage of women in longevity used to be smaller
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart plots the life expectancy of males and females at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both men and women in the US are living much, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy was once extremely small but it has risen significantly over time.

1386608.jpgBy selecting 'Change Country in the chart, verify that these two points also apply to the other countries having available information: Sweden, France and the UK.