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Why do women have longer lives 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. Why do women live much longer than men today, and why is this difference growing in the past? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to reach an unambiguous conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; however, we do not know how strong the relative contribution to each of these variables is.

We know that women live longer than men, regardless of weight. But it is not due to the fact that certain non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. 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. We can see that every country is above the diagonal parity line , which means that in every country a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

The chart above shows that, while the advantage for women exists across all countries, the difference between countries is huge. In Russia, women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan, the difference is less than half a calendar year.

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In the richer countries, the female advantage in longevity was not as great.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and علامات الحمل بولد 2014. Two points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women in the US live a lot, 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 increasing: While the advantage of women in life expectancy was once extremely small but it has risen significantly over time.

By selecting 'Change Country by country' in the chart, you can check that these two points apply to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.