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Why women live longer than men?

Vilma Santora (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 have a longer life span than men? And why does this benefit increase over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence isn't sufficient to draw a definitive conclusion. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; however, we aren't sure how strong the relative contribution of each one of these factors is.

In spite of how much amount, we can say that at least a portion of the reason women live longer than men today and not previously, has to relate to the fact that several key non-biological factors have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Other 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, every country is above the diagonal parity line ; this means that in all countries baby girls can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

This graph shows that although women have an advantage across all countries, differences between countries are often significant. In Russia women are 10 years older than men, صبغ الشعر بالاسود while in Bhutan the difference is just half one year.

The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in developed countries as compared to the present.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart shows the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two specific points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both men and women in the US are living much, much longer than they did 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 advantage of women in life expectancy was once quite small It has significantly increased over time.

By selecting 'Change Country by country' in the chart, you will be able to confirm that the two points are applicable to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.