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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Jett Alvarado (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 why women are more likely to live longer than men? And why the advantage has grown as time passes? The evidence is sketchy and we only have limited answers. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women are healthier than men; however, we aren't sure how much the influence of each factor is.

We have learned that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. But this isn't because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. What are these factors that have changed? 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, العاب زوجية 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 you can see, every country is above the diagonal line of parity - this means that in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

Interestingly, this chart shows that, while the advantage for women exists across all countries, the cross-country differences are large. In Russia, women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the gap is just half a year.

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In countries with high incomes, the female advantage in longevity was smaller
Let's examine how the female advantage in longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows the gender-based and female-specific life expectancy at the birth in the US during the period 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Men and women in the United States live longer than they were a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is a widening gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be extremely small however it increased dramatically in the past century.

If you select the option "Change country from the chart, determine if these two points are applicable to other countries that have available data: Sweden, France and the UK.