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Why do women have longer lives 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. What is the reason women live much longer than men today and how has this advantage increased over time? There isn't much evidence and we only have incomplete solutions. While we are aware that there are biological, psychological, and environmental factors that play an integral role in women living longer than men, we do not know how much each factor contributes.

In spite of the precise amount, we can say that at least part of the reason why women live longer than men today but not previously, has to have to do with the fact that several significant non-biological elements have changed. The factors changing are numerous. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, علامات الحمل بولد 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.

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 every country is above the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in every country can expect to live longer than her older brother.

The chart above shows that while the female advantage is present everywhere, cross-country differences are large. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than males; while in Bhutan the gap is just half an hour.

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In wealthy countries, the female advantage in longevity was smaller
Let's examine the way that female advantages in longevity has changed with time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancies at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two areas stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women in the US live a lot, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy was tiny however, it has grown significantly in the past.

It is possible to verify that these points are also applicable to other countries that have information by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.