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Why are women living longer than men?

Merlin Dunstan (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's the reason why women have a longer life span than men? And why has this advantage gotten larger over time? There is only limited evidence and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an unambiguous conclusion. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral as well as environmental factors which all play a part in women's longevity more than men, we don't know what percentage each factor plays in.

In spite of how much weight, we know that at least part of the reason why women live longer than men in the present, but not previously, has to do with the fact that certain fundamental non-biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Certain 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, 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 line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl from any country can be expected to live for longer than her older brother.

This chart shows that, even though women enjoy an advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be substantial. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men, اضيق وضعية للجماع while in Bhutan the difference is just half an hour.

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The female advantage in life expectancy was much lower in developed countries than it is today.
Let's examine how the gender advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. as well as women in the US live much, much longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is growing: Although the female advantage in terms of life expectancy was extremely small, it has increased substantially over time.

You can check if these are applicable to other countries with data by clicking on the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.