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Why do women live longer 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 is the reason women live longer than men in the present, and why is this difference growing in the past? We only have a few clues and the evidence is not sufficient to reach an unambiguous conclusion. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women have longer lives than men, however, we aren't sure how much the influence of each of these factors is.

We are aware that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. However, this is not because of certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. 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 العاب زوجية 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. It is clear that every country is over the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in every country can be expected to live for longer than her brothers.

The chart above shows that while the female advantage exists in all countries, global differences are significant. In Russia women have a longer life span than men; in Bhutan the gap is just half each year.

The advantage of women in life expectancy was less in the richer countries than it is now.
Let's examine how the female advantage in longevity has changed with time. The following chart shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two things stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend: Men as well as women in the US have a much longer life span longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used be extremely small, but it grew substantially over the last century.

Using the option 'Change country' on the chart, you are able to check that these two points are also applicable to other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.