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Why are women living longer than men?

Sabine Biaggini (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. Why do women live much longer than men today, and why is this difference growing in the past? The evidence is limited and we only have incomplete answers. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women have longer life spans than men, however, we do not know how much the influence to each of these variables is.

We know that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. However, this is not due to the fact that certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. The factors changing are numerous. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, افضل شامبو وبلسم like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. 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, افضل شامبو وبلسم 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 line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in all countries can be expected to live for longer than her younger brother.

The chart above shows that the advantage of women exists across all countries, the cross-country differences are large. In Russia women are 10 years older than men; in Bhutan the difference is just half a year.

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The advantage women had in life expectancy was less in developed countries that it is today.
Let's look at how the advantage of women in longevity has changed with time. The next chart compares the male and female lifespans at birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two 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 a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be very modest however it increased dramatically over the course of the last century.

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