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Why are women living longer than men?

Sienna Wunderly (2022-04-20)


12153725153_6e87030e50.jpgEverywhere 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 main reason women are more likely to live longer than men? Why the advantage has grown over time? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not sufficient to draw an unambiguous conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, psychological and environmental factors that all play a role in women living longer than males, it isn't clear what percentage each factor plays in.

It is known that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However this isn't because of certain non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. 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, زيوت تطويل الشعر 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 we can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line - it means that in all nations the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a new boy.1

It is interesting to note that, while the advantage for women exists everywhere, the cross-country differences are large. In Russia women have a longer life span than men, while in Bhutan the difference is less than half each year.

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The advantage for women in life expectancy was smaller in developed countries than it is today.
Let's examine how the gender advantage in longevity has changed over time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancy at the birth in the US from 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both genders in the United States live longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is getting wider: Although the advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was tiny It has significantly increased with time.

By selecting 'Change Country in the chart, you are able to confirm that the two points are also applicable to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.