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Why do women live longer than men?

Hassie Blaze (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. Why do women live more than men do today, and why have these advantages gotten bigger over time? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn't sufficient to support a definitive conclusion. While we are aware that there are biological, psychological and environmental variables that all play a role in women living longer than males, we aren't sure how much each one contributes.

It is known that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. However this isn't due to the fact that certain non-biological aspects have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others are more complicated. For تحاميل مهبلية 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 you can see, all countries are above the diagonal line of parity - this means in all countries baby girls can expect to live longer than a newborn boy.1

This chart illustrates that, while there is a female advantage across all countries, differences between countries can be substantial. In Russia, women live 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan there is a difference of just half a year.

In the richer countries, the female advantage in longevity used to be smaller
We will now examine how the gender advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart compares male and female life expectancy at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two things stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Women and men in the United States live longer than they were 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: While the advantage of women in life expectancy was once very small but it has risen significantly over time.

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