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Why do women have longer lives 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 so longer than men in the present and why is this difference growing in the past? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not sufficient to support an absolute conclusion. Although we know that there are behavioral, biological and environmental variables that play an integral role in the longevity of women over males, we aren't sure what percentage each factor plays in.

In spite of how much weight, we know that a large portion of the reason why women live longer than men do today however not as in the past, has to have to do with the fact that a number of significant non-biological elements have changed. What 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, 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 every country is above the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl from any country can be expected to live for longer than her older brother.

The chart above shows that although the female advantage exists everywhere, the global differences are significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the gap is less than half one year.

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In rich countries the longevity advantage for women was previously smaller.
Let's examine how the advantage of women in longevity has changed with time. The chart below illustrates the gender-based and female-specific life expectancy at the birth in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two aspects stand out.

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: تحاميل مهبلية female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very modest but it increased substantially in the past century.

You can confirm that these are applicable to other countries with data by selecting the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.