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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Lilliana Kobayashi (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 more than men do today and how does this benefit increase over time? The evidence is limited and we have only incomplete answers. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that all play a role in women's longevity more than men, we do not know the extent to which each factor plays a role.

We know that women live longer than men, regardless of weight. But 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. There are other issues that are more intricate. For اضيق وضعية للجماع 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, اضيق وضعية للجماع 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 line of parity - which means that in every country that a baby girl can be expected to live for longer than a new boy.1

The chart above shows that, while the advantage for women exists in all countries, global differences are significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the gap is only half a year.

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The female advantage in life expectancy was less in countries with higher incomes than it is now.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US between 1790 to 2014. Two areas stand out.

First, there's an upward trend. Both men as well as women in the US live much, much longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

There is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be extremely small but it increased substantially in the past century.

If you select the option "Change country from the chart, you will be able to verify that these two points are also applicable to other countries that have available information: Sweden, France and the UK.