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Why do women have longer lives than men?

Ferne Sisk (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 reason why women are more likely to live longer than men? What is the reason does this benefit increase over time? There isn't much evidence and we have only incomplete answers. We know that behavioral, العاب زوجية biological and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; however, we do not know how significant the impact of each one of these factors is.

We are aware that women are living longer than men, regardless of weight. But, this is not because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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 women. It is clear that every country is above the diagonal line of parity. This means that a newborn girl from any country can anticipate to live longer than her brothers.

It is interesting to note that the advantage of women exists everywhere, the country-specific differences are huge. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than males; while in Bhutan the gap is just half one year.

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In the richer countries, the female advantage in longevity was smaller
We will now examine the way that female advantages in life expectancy has changed over time. The following chart shows the men and women's life expectancies when they were born in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Women and men in America have longer lives than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is increasing: While the female advantage in life expectancy was very small but it has risen significantly over time.

2 years agoUsing the option 'Change country by country' in the chart, you can determine if these two points also apply to the other countries having available data: Sweden, France and the UK.