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Why are women living longer than men?

Marcos Flannery (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 makes women live more than men do today and how have these advantages gotten bigger over time? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to reach an absolute conclusion. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors 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.

It is known that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. But, this is not due to the fact that certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. These factors 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, all countries are above the diagonal parity line , العاب زوجية it means that in all nations a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

It is interesting to note that, while the advantage for women exists across all countries, the cross-country differences are large. In Russia women live for 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of less than half a calendar year.

In the richer countries, the women's advantage in longevity used to be smaller
We will now examine how the advantage of women in terms of longevity has changed over 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 points stand out.

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

There is an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be extremely small however it increased dramatically in the past century.

When you click on the option "Change country by country' in the chart, you will be able to confirm that the two points apply to the other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.