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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Leandro Tilton (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 women are more likely to live longer than men? Why has this advantage gotten larger over time? There isn't much evidence 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.

It is known that women live longer than men, regardless of weight. However it is not due to the fact that certain non-biological aspects have changed. These factors are changing. 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 every country is above the diagonal parity line - this means in all countries the newborn girl is likely to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

Interestingly, this chart shows that, while the advantage for women exists everywhere, the global differences are significant. In Russia women are 10 years older than men, while in Bhutan the gap is just half one year.

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In rich countries the longevity advantage for women was not as great.
We will now examine the way that female advantages in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart shows male and صبغ الشعر بالاسود female life expectancy at birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women in America live longer than they were a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used to be extremely small however, صبغ الشعر بالاسود it has increased significantly over the last century.

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