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Why do women live longer than men?

Danny Arias (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 live longer than men? What is the reason does this benefit increase over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to draw an absolute conclusion. We know there are behavioral, biological and environmental factors that play an integral role in women's longevity more than men, we don't know how much each factor contributes.

Independently of the exact weight, we know that at least part of the reason women live longer than men today however not as in the past, has to do with the fact that certain key non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. 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 diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl in all countries can be expected to live for longer than her brothers.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that, while the advantage for women exists everywhere, the cross-country differences are large. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the gap is less than half one year.

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The advantage for women in life expectancy was less in rich countries as compared to the present.
Let's take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancies at birth in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both genders in America live longer than they were 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is getting wider: Although the female advantage in life expectancy used to be very small however, افضل كريم للشعر it has grown significantly over time.

Using the option 'Change country' on the chart, افضل كريم للشعر you will be able to check that these two points also apply to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.