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Why are women living longer than men?

Mellissa Rodman (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 why women are more likely to live longer than men? What is the reason does this benefit increase in the past? We only have partial evidence and the evidence is not strong enough to make an unambiguous conclusion. We know there are biological, behavioral and environmental variables that play an integral role in women who live longer than males, we aren't sure the extent to which each factor plays a role.

In spite of how much amount of weight, we are aware that a large portion of the reason women live so much longer than men today, but not in the past, is to do with the fact that a number of key non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. 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, 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. We can see that every country is above the diagonal parity line - this means in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live longer than a new boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that while the female advantage exists across all countries, the global differences are significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than males; while in Bhutan the difference is just half an hour.

The advantage for women in terms of life expectancy was lower in the richer countries as compared to the present.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancy at birth in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend: Men and women in the US are living much, much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there's an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be quite small but it increased substantially over the last century.

It is possible to verify that these are applicable to other countries with data by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, علامات الحمل بولد and Sweden.