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Why are women living longer than men?

Tawanna Cates (2022-04-22)


organix-renewing-moroccan-argan-oil-shamEverywhere 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 makes women live much longer than men today, and why has this advantage increased in the past? We only have partial evidence and the evidence isn't sufficient to reach an unambiguous conclusion. While we are aware that there are behavioral, biological and environmental variables which play a significant role in women's longevity more than males, it isn't clear how much each factor contributes.

In spite of how much weight, we know that at least a portion of the reason women live so much longer than men today however not as in the past, is to have to do with the fact that certain fundamental 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 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, اضيق وضعية للجماع 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 all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; this means in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live longer than a new boy.1

Interestingly, this chart shows that although the female advantage exists in all countries, country-specific differences are huge. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half a year.

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In wealthy countries, the women's advantage in longevity was previously smaller.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancy at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two specific points 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 a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is getting wider: Although the female advantage in life expectancy used to be tiny however, it has grown significantly with time.

If you select the option "Change country' on the chart, you can check that these two points also apply to the other countries having available information: Sweden, France and the UK.