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Why do women live longer than men?

Jetta Tedesco (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 are more likely to live longer than men? Why does this benefit increase in the past? The evidence is limited and we're left with only some answers. While we are aware that there are biological, behavioral as well as environmental factors which all play a part in women's longevity more than males, we aren't sure what percentage each factor plays in.

We are aware that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. But this isn't due to the fact that certain 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 علامات الحمل بولد 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 line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl from any country can expect to live longer than her younger brother.

This chart shows that, even though women enjoy an advantage across all countries, differences between countries can be substantial. In Russia women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half a year.

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The advantage for women in life expectancy was much lower in developed countries as compared to the present.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancies at birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two things stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both genders in America live longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be quite small but it increased substantially in the past century.

You can verify that the points you've listed are applicable to other countries that have data by clicking the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.