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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Merlin Dunstan (2022-04-22)


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 makes women live more than men do today and how has this advantage increased in the past? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn't strong enough to make an absolute conclusion. Although we know that there are behavioral, biological as well as environmental factors which all play a part in the longevity of women over males, we aren't sure the extent to which each factor plays a role.

In spite of the amount, we can say that a large portion of the reason why women live so much longer than men in the present, but not in the past, has to have to do with the fact that a number of significant non-biological elements have changed. What are these factors that have changed? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Some are more complex. 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, 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 longer than a newborn boy.1

The chart below shows that even though women enjoy an advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be substantial. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of only half a year.

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In countries with high incomes, the longevity advantage for women was previously smaller.
Let's examine how the gender advantage in longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two 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 a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is widening: While the advantage of women in life expectancy used to be very small but it has risen significantly over time.

By selecting 'Change Country from the chart, determine if these two points are also applicable to the other countries having available data: Sweden, France and the UK.