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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 is the reason women live much longer than men today and why has this advantage increased in the past? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to draw a definitive conclusion. We know there are behavioral, biological as well as environmental factors that all play a role in women living longer than males, it isn't clear the extent to which each factor plays a role.

In spite of the precise weight, we know that a large portion of the reason why women live so much longer than men today, but not previously, has to relate to the fact that certain important non-biological aspects have changed. These variables are evolving. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, 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, 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 above the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl in every country can expect to live longer than her brothers.

This chart illustrates that, while there is a female advantage everywhere, cross-country differences could be significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men; in Bhutan the difference is just half each year.

The advantage of women in life expectancy was much lower in developed countries as compared to the present.
We will now examine how the female advantage in longevity has changed with time. The next chart plots the male and female lifespans at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Women and men in America have longer lives than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, ابر التخسيس the gap is growing: Although the advantage of women in life expectancy used to be extremely small but it has risen significantly over time.

It is possible to verify that these points are also applicable to other countries with data by clicking the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.2 years ago