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Why are women living longer than men?

Sienna Wunderly (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 have these advantages gotten bigger over time? The evidence is limited and we only have partial answers. We know that behavioral, تحاميل مهبلية biological and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women have longer lives than men, however, we aren't sure what the contribution of each factor is.

In spite of the amount, we can say that at a minimum, the reason women live so much longer than men in the present and not in the past, has to do with the fact that certain fundamental non-biological factors have changed. The factors changing are numerous. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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 over the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl from any country can expect to live longer than her younger brother.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that while the female advantage exists across all countries, the country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women are 10 years older than men, while in Bhutan the difference is less than half one year.

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The advantage women had in life expectancy was much lower in countries with higher incomes as compared to the present.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the men and women's life expectancies at the time of birth in the US between 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend: Men and 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 increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in life expectancy used be extremely small however, it has increased significantly in the past century.

You can confirm that these are applicable to other countries with data by selecting the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, تحاميل مهبلية and Sweden.