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Why do women live longer than men?

Yvette Bock (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 much longer than men today and how have these advantages gotten bigger over time? The evidence isn't conclusive and we have only partial solutions. We recognize that biological, behavioral and اضيق وضعية للجماع environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women have longer lives than men, however, we aren't sure how strong the relative contribution of each of these factors is.

It is known that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However this isn't because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. What are these changing factors? 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.

2 years agoEverywhere 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 every country is above the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl from every country could expect to live longer than her older brother.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that the advantage of women exists across all countries, the difference between countries is huge. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan there is a difference of only half a year.

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In wealthy countries, the longevity advantage for women was smaller
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The chart below shows gender-based and female-specific life expectancy when they were born in the US between 1790 until 2014. Two specific points stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. Men as well as women in the US are living much, much longer today than a century 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 was very small, it has increased substantially over time.

When you click on the option "Change country from the chart, you can verify that these two points are applicable to other countries that have available information: Sweden, France and the UK.