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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Merlin Dunstan (2022-04-23)


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 main reason women live longer than men? Why has this advantage gotten larger in the past? There isn't much evidence and we're left with only some answers. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; however, we do not know how significant the impact to each of these variables is.

We have learned that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. However this is not because of certain non-biological factors have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Some 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, زيوت تطويل الشعر 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 the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a newborn boy.1

This graph shows that although there is a women's advantage in all countries, the differences across countries are often significant. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan, زيوت تطويل الشعر the difference is only half a year.

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In rich countries the longevity advantage for women was smaller
Let's now look at how the gender advantage in terms of longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancy at the birth in the US during the period 1790 to 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both men as well as women in the US have a much longer life span longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be very modest however it increased dramatically over the last century.

You can check if the points you've listed are applicable to other countries with data by selecting the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.