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Why are women living longer than men?

Merlin Dunstan (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 have a longer life span than men? Why has this advantage gotten larger as time passes? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to reach a definitive conclusion. We know there are biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that all play a role in the longevity of women over males, it isn't clear what percentage each factor plays in.

We have learned that women live longer than men, regardless of weight. However, this is not due to the fact that certain biological factors have changed. The factors changing are numerous. 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. We can see that all countries are above the diagonal parity line , this means in all countries baby girls can expect to live longer than a new boy.1

This chart illustrates that, صبغ الشعر بالاسود while there is a female advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be substantial. In Russia women are 10 years older than men; in Bhutan the difference is just half one year.

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The advantage of women in life expectancy was much lower in developed countries than it is now.
Let's look at the way that female advantages in longevity has changed over time. The next chart shows the male and female lifespans at birth in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend: Men and women in the US live much, much longer than they did 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 women: female advantage in life expectancy used to be quite small but it increased substantially during the last century.

If you select the option "Change country' on the chart, you are able to check that these two points also apply to the other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.3 years ago