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Why women are more likely to live longer than men?

Jett Alvarado (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 more than men do today and how does this benefit increase in the past? The evidence isn't conclusive and we have only some solutions. Although we know that there are biological, psychological as well as environmental factors which play a significant role in women living longer than males, it isn't clear what percentage each factor plays in.

We are aware that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. But it is not due to the fact that certain biological factors have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Certain are more complicated. 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 صبغ الشعر بالاسود women. As you can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line - this means that in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

It is interesting to note that, while the advantage for women is present everywhere, global differences are significant. In Russia women have a longer life span than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half one year.

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In the richer countries, صبغ الشعر بالاسود the longevity advantage for women was not as great.
We will now examine how the female advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US between 1790 to 2014. Two points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Men as well as 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 getting wider: Although the advantage of women in life expectancy used to be tiny, it has increased substantially over time.

Using the option 'Change country by country' in the chart, you will be able to verify that these two points also apply to other countries that have available information: Sweden, France and the UK.