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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Roma Glaze (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 so much longer than men today, and why does this benefit increase in the past? There isn't much evidence and we only have partial solutions. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women have longer lives than men, however, we do not know how much the influence of each of these factors is.

In spite of the precise amount, we can say that at least part of the reason women live longer than men today but not previously, has to be due to the fact that several significant non-biological elements have changed. What are these factors that have changed? 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. It is clear that every country is above the line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl in all countries can be expected to live for longer than her younger brother.

This graph shows that while there is a female advantage in all countries, the differences across countries are often significant. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the difference is less than half each year.

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In countries with high incomes, the female advantage in longevity was not as great.
Let's now look at how the gender advantage in terms of longevity has changed over time. The next chart compares male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend: Men and افضل كريم للشعر women in the US are living much, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: While the advantage of women in life expectancy used to be very small however, it has grown significantly in the past.

By selecting 'Change Country' on the chart, you are able to verify that these two points apply to the other countries having available data: Sweden, افضل كريم للشعر France and the UK.