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Why women are more likely to 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. Why do women live longer than men in the present and why have these advantages gotten bigger over time? The evidence is limited and we have only partial answers. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women have longer lives than men, but we don't know exactly what the contribution of each of these factors is.

Independently of the exact amount of weight, we are aware that at least part of the reason women live so much longer than men in the present and not previously, is to be due to the fact that some key 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. 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, اضيق وضعية للجماع 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 you can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line - it means that in all nations baby girls can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

1 year agoThe chart above shows that while the female advantage is present everywhere, global differences are significant. In Russia women have a longer life span than men. In Bhutan the gap is just half each year.

The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in developed countries as compared to the present.
Let's now look at how the gender advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart plots the life expectancy of males and females when they were born in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two distinct points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both genders in America have longer lives than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very modest, but it grew substantially over the course of the last century.

You can check if these points are also applicable to other countries with information by clicking on the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, اضيق وضعية للجماع France, and Sweden.