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Why are women living longer than men?

Kimberly Castleberry (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 live longer than men? What is the reason is this difference growing over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence is not strong enough to make an unambiguous conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; however, we aren't sure what the contribution of each one of these factors is.

Independently of the exact amount, we can say that at a minimum, the reason why women live so much longer than men and not in the past, has to have to do with 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 others 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, اضيق وضعية للجماع 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 all countries are above the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl from every country could anticipate to live longer than her brother.

This graph shows that even though women enjoy an advantage everywhere, cross-country differences are often significant. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of just half a year.

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The female advantage in terms of life expectancy was lower in rich countries that it is today.
Let's see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two distinct features stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Men and women in America have longer lives than they were a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used be very modest however, it has increased significantly in the past century.

Using the option 'Change country from the chart, you can determine if these two points are also applicable to other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.