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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Wilford Tufnell (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 much longer than men today, and why does this benefit increase over time? The evidence is limited and we're only able to provide some answers. While we are aware that there are biological, psychological, and environmental factors which play a significant role in women who live longer than men, we do not know what percentage each factor plays in.

We have learned that women live longer than men, regardless of weight. But, this is not due to the fact that certain biological factors 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 complicated. For example, علامات الحمل بولد 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 you can see, all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; this means that in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live longer than a newborn boy.1

It is interesting to note that while the female advantage exists across all countries, the global differences are significant. In Russia women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.

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The advantage for women in life expectancy was smaller in countries with higher incomes that it is today.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The next chart plots male and female life expectancies at birth in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both 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.

And second, there is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be extremely small but it increased substantially over the last century.

By selecting 'Change Country from the chart, علامات الحمل بولد verify that these two points are applicable to other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.