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Why do women have longer lives 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's the reason why women live longer than men? Why is this difference growing as time passes? The evidence is limited and we're only able to provide partial solutions. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; However, we're not sure how much the influence of each of these factors is.

We are aware that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However, this is not because of certain biological or non-biological factors 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, كيفية ممارسة العلاقة الزوجية فى الاسلام 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. We can see that all countries are above the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl from every country could expect to live longer than her brother.

This chart shows that, although women have an advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be significant. In Russia women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.

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In rich countries the advantage of women in longevity used to be smaller
Let's examine how the gender advantage in longevity has changed over time. The next chart shows the life expectancy of males and females at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two specific points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Men and women in America have longer lives than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in life expectancy used to be very modest however it increased dramatically during the last century.

It is possible to verify that these principles are also applicable to other countries that have data by clicking the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.