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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Winfred Paling (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? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not strong enough to make a definitive conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, psychological and environmental factors which all play a part in women's longevity more than men, we do not know what percentage each factor plays in.

Independently of the exact amount, we can say that at least part of the reason women live so much longer than men in the present, but not previously, has to have to do with the fact that a number of important non-biological aspects 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, 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 over the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl from any country can anticipate to live longer than her brother.

The chart below shows that although women have an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries could be significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan there is a difference of less that half a year.

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In countries with high incomes, the longevity advantage for تحاميل مهبلية women was previously smaller.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. and women in the US live much, much longer today than 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 female advantage in life expectancy was very small, it has increased substantially over time.

By selecting 'Change Country by country' in the chart, you can verify that these two points apply to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.