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Why women live longer than men?

Tawanna Cates (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 is the reason women have a longer life span than men? And why does this benefit increase in the past? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to support an informed conclusion. While we are aware that there are behavioral, biological, and environmental factors that all play a role in women who live longer than males, it isn't clear what percentage each factor plays in.

We know that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. But this isn't because of certain biological factors have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Some are more complex. 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, 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 above the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl from any country can anticipate to live longer than her brothers.

The chart above shows that the advantage of women exists in all countries, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men; in Bhutan the gap is just half an hour.

The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in developed countries than it is today.
We will now examine how the advantage of women in life expectancy has changed over time. The next chart compares male and female life expectancies at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two areas stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Women and men in America have longer lives than they were 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 life expectancy used to be tiny but it has risen significantly over time.

It is possible to verify that these points are also applicable to other countries that have data by clicking the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, كيفية ممارسة العلاقة الزوجية فى الاسلام France, and Sweden.