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Why do women live longer than men?

Wilford Tufnell (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 so longer than men, and why does this benefit increase over time? There is only limited evidence and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an informed conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women have longer lives than men, however, we do not know how strong the relative contribution of each of these factors is.

We have learned that women are living longer than men, العاب زوجية regardless of their weight. However it is not due to the fact that certain biological factors have changed. The factors changing are numerous. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, 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. We can see that all countries are over the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl in every country can expect to live longer than her brother.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that the advantage of women exists everywhere, the cross-country differences are large. In Russia women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the gap is less than half a calendar year.

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The advantage women had in life expectancy was much lower in rich countries than it is today.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart compares male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men as well as 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.

There is an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be very modest however it increased dramatically in the past century.

If you select the option "Change country' on the chart, you will be able to determine if these two points also apply to other countries that have available data: Sweden, France and the UK.