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Why do women live longer than men?

Lora Helm (2022-04-21)

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 longer than men in the present and how does this benefit increase over time? The evidence is limited and we're left with only limited solutions. We know there are biological, behavioral and environmental variables that all play a role in women who live longer than males, it isn't clear what percentage each factor plays in.

We are aware that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. However, this is not due to the fact that certain 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. Others 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. It is clear that all countries are over the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl from any country can anticipate to live longer than her younger brother.

The chart below shows that although there is a women's advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men; in Bhutan the gap is just half each year.

In the richer countries, the advantage of women in longevity used to be smaller
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the gender-based and female-specific life expectancy when they were born in the US in the years 1790 until 2014. Two points stand out.

There is an upward trend. and 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.

And second, there is an ever-widening gap: زيوت تطويل الشعر female advantage in life expectancy used be very small, but it grew substantially over the last century.

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