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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's the main reason women live longer than men? And why does this benefit increase over time? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn't sufficient to support an absolute conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, psychological, and environmental factors which play a significant role in women's longevity more than males, it isn't clear how much each factor contributes.

In spite of how much number of pounds, we know that at least a portion of the reason why women live longer than men today but not in the past, has to be due to the fact that certain 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. 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. We can see that all countries are above the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl from every country could expect to live longer than her younger brother.

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

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The advantage for women in life expectancy was smaller in countries with higher incomes that it is today.
Let's now look at how the gender advantage in longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows male and female life expectancies at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Men and women in America live longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very small however it increased dramatically over the course of the last century.

You can confirm that the points you've listed are applicable to other countries that have data by clicking the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور and Sweden.