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Why do women live longer than men?

Leandro Tilton (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 reason women are more likely to live longer than men? Why has this advantage gotten larger in the past? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn't strong enough to make a definitive conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women have longer life spans than men, However, we're not sure how significant the impact to each of these variables is.

It is known that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. However, this is not because of certain non-biological factors have changed. What are these factors that have changed? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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, 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 parity line ; which means that in every country that a baby girl can be expected to live longer than a newborn boy.1

Interestingly, this chart shows that although the female advantage exists in all countries, cross-country differences are large. In Russia women live 10 years longer than males; while in Bhutan the gap is just half an hour.

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The advantage of women in life expectancy was smaller in developed countries as compared to the present.
Let's now look at how the gender advantage in longevity has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the male and صبغ الشعر بالاسود female life expectancies at the time of birth in the US from 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

There is an upward trend. and women in the US live a lot, much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

There is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used be very small, but it grew substantially in the past century.

1 year agoIt is possible to verify that these points are also applicable to other countries with data by clicking the "Change country" option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and صبغ الشعر بالاسود Sweden.