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Why do women live longer than men?

Cathryn Richter (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's the main reason women live longer than men? Why is this difference growing as time passes? The evidence is limited and we're only able to provide limited solutions. Although we know that there are biological, behavioral as well as environmental factors that all play a role in women who live longer than men, we don't know how much each factor contributes.

In spite of how much number of pounds, we know that a large portion of the reason women live longer than men in the present but not previously, has to have to do with the fact that some important non-biological aspects have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. 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, العاب زوجية 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. It is clear that every country is over the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl in all countries can be expected to live for longer than her brother.

Interestingly, this chart shows that although the female advantage exists everywhere, the cross-country differences are large. In Russia women are 10 years older than men; in Bhutan the gap is less than half a year.

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In rich countries the advantage of women in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's examine how the gender advantage in longevity has changed over time. The next chart shows the life expectancy of males and females when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

First, there's an upward trend: 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.

Second, the gap is growing: Although the advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was quite small It has significantly increased with time.

If you select the option "Change country' on the chart, you are able to confirm that the two points are also applicable to the other countries having available data: Sweden, France and the UK.