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Why do women 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. What's the reason why women are more likely to live longer than men? Why does this benefit increase as time passes? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not strong enough to make an informed conclusion. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; however, we aren't sure how much the influence of each one of these factors is.

5282-1.jpgIn spite of the precise amount of weight, we are aware that a large portion of the reason women live longer than men and not in the past, has to do with the fact that some fundamental non-biological factors have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. 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 women. It is clear that all countries are over the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in all countries can anticipate to live longer than her younger brother.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that while the female advantage exists in all countries, cross-country differences are large. In Russia, women live 10 years more than males. In Bhutan the difference is less than half a calendar year.

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In the richer countries, the longevity advantage for women was not as great.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart shows the male and female lifespans at birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two areas stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both men as well as 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.

Second, صبغ الشعر بالاسود there's an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be quite small however it increased dramatically in the past century.

When you click on the option "Change country in the chart, verify that these two points are also applicable to the other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.