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Why are women living longer than men?

Ava Scutt (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 reason women have a longer life span than men? And how does this benefit increase in the past? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not strong enough to make an absolute conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; However, we're not sure how significant the impact of each one of these factors is.

We have learned that women live longer than men, regardless of weight. But this isn't because of certain biological factors have changed. The factors changing are numerous. 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 over the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl from any country can expect to live longer than her brother.

Interestingly, this chart shows that although the female advantage is present everywhere, cross-country differences are large. In Russia women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of less that half a year.

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The advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was lower in rich countries than it is now.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The following chart shows the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two areas stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. Men as well as women in the US live a lot, much longer than they did 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 widening: While the advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was very small but it has risen significantly over time.

You can confirm that these are applicable to other countries with data by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور Sweden.