Why are women living longer than men?

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 makes women live longer than men and why have these advantages gotten bigger in the past? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to draw a definitive conclusion. Although we know that there are behavioral, biological and environmental factors which all play a part in the longevity of women over men, we don’t know how much each factor contributes.

In spite of the weight, we know that at least a portion of the reason women live longer than men do today, but not in the past, is to do with the fact that some important non-biological aspects have changed. These variables are evolving. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, اوضاع الجماع like the fact that men smoke more often. Certain 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. As you can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line ; it means that in all nations baby girls can expect to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

It is interesting to note that, while the advantage for women is present everywhere, difference between countries is huge. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the gap is just half each year.

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In the richer countries, the longevity advantage for women was smaller

Let’s now look at how the female advantage in longevity has changed over time. The next chart plots male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two specific points stand out.

There is an upward trend: Men as well as women in the US have a much longer life span longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is growing: Although the advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was extremely small, it has increased substantially in the past.

It is possible to verify that these points are also applicable to other countries with data by clicking the “Change country” option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.

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