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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Mellissa Rodman (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 longer than men and why have these advantages gotten bigger over time? The evidence is sketchy and we're left with only incomplete answers. Although we know that there are biological, psychological and environmental variables that all play a role in women living longer than males, it isn't clear how much each one contributes.

In spite of the precise amount, we can say that at a minimum, the reason why women live so much longer than men in the present and اضيق وضعية للجماع not previously, has to do with the fact that certain fundamental non-biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Certain 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 we can see, all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; it means that in all nations that a baby girl can be expected to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

The chart below shows that even though women enjoy an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries are often significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than males; while in Bhutan the gap is just half one year.

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The advantage of women in life expectancy was much lower in countries with higher incomes than it is now.
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The following chart shows the men and women's life expectancies when they were born in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two distinct points 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.

There is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be very modest, but it grew substantially over the course of the last century.

It is possible to verify that the points you've listed are applicable to other countries with information by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.