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Why are women living longer than men?

Ava Scutt (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 is the reason women live longer than men and why is this difference growing over time? The evidence is sketchy and we're only able to provide incomplete solutions. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; However, we're not sure how much the influence of each one of these factors is.

In spite of how much amount, we can say that at least part of the reason why women live longer than men, but not previously, is to be due to the fact that some significant non-biological elements have changed. What are the factors that are changing? 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, 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. As we can see, all countries are above the diagonal parity line - this means that in all countries that a baby girl can be expected to live longer than a new boy.1

This graph shows that although there is a women's advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be substantial. In Russia women have a longer life span than men; in Bhutan the difference is less than half each year.

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In countries with high incomes, the advantage of women in longevity was smaller
Let's look at how female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart plots the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and علامات الحمل بولد 2014. Two areas stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both genders in America have longer lives than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an increase in the gap between men and علامات الحمل بولد women: female advantage in life expectancy used be very small however, it has increased significantly in the past century.

1397031219470420214305624.jpgYou can confirm that these points are also applicable to other countries that have information by clicking on the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.