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Why do women live longer than men?

Cathryn Richter (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 makes women live more than men do today, and why is this difference growing in the past? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not sufficient to support an informed conclusion. While we are aware that there are biological, behavioral and environmental factors which all play a part in the longevity of women over men, we don't know how much each one contributes.

In spite of how much amount, we can say that at a minimum, the reason why women live so much longer than men do today however not as previously, is to relate to the fact that a number of fundamental non-biological factors have changed. What are these new factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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. As you can see, all countries are above the diagonal line of parity - this means in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

The chart below shows that although there is a women's advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

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The advantage women had in life expectancy was much lower in the richer countries than it is now.
We will now examine how the gender advantage in longevity has changed with time. The next chart compares male and كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور female life expectancy at birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. as well as women in the US live much, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is getting wider: Although the female advantage in life expectancy was tiny It has significantly increased over time.

Using the option 'Change country from the chart, you will be able to determine if these two points are applicable to other countries that have available data: Sweden, France and the UK.