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Why are women living longer than men?

Lilliana Kobayashi (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 is the reason women live longer than men? Why the advantage has grown as time passes? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an unambiguous conclusion. While we are aware that there are behavioral, biological as well as environmental factors which all play a part in the longevity of women over men, we don't know the extent to which each factor plays a role.

1 year agoIn spite of how much weight, we know that at least part of the reason why women live longer than men today but not previously, has to be due to the fact that some important non-biological aspects have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Other are more complicated. 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, تحاميل مهبلية 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 - which means that in every country the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a new boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that the advantage of women exists in all countries, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than males; while in Bhutan the gap is just half an hour.

The advantage women had in life expectancy was less in the richer countries than it is today.
Let's now look at how the gender advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancy at the time of birth in the US during the period 1790 until 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

First, there's an upward trend: Men as well as women in the US are living much, much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy used to be tiny however, it has grown significantly over time.

By selecting 'Change Country in the chart, check that these two points also apply to other countries with available data: Sweden, تحاميل مهبلية France and the UK.