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Why do women live longer than men?

Roma Glaze (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 main reason women are more likely to live longer than men? Why does this benefit increase in the past? The evidence is sketchy and we're only able to provide some solutions. We know there are biological, behavioral and environmental factors which all play a part in women living longer than males, it isn't clear how much each factor contributes.

item_XL_7651744_136278039.jpgWe have learned that women are living 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. Some are more complex. 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. As we can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line ; it means that in all nations baby girls can expect to live longer than a new boy.1

The chart above shows that, while the advantage for women is present everywhere, cross-country differences are large. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is less than half a calendar year.

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The advantage for women in life expectancy was less in rich countries than it is today.
Let's examine how the gender advantage in longevity has changed with time. The following chart shows male and female life expectancies at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

First, there is an upward trend: Men and women in the US have a much longer life span longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور the gap is increasing: While the advantage of women in life expectancy used to be very small, it has increased substantially over time.

Using the option 'Change country' on the chart, you are able to verify that these two points are applicable to other countries with available data: كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور Sweden, France and the UK.