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? And how the advantage has grown in the past? We only have partial evidence and the evidence isn’t sufficient to support an unambiguous conclusion. While we are aware that there are biological, psychological and environmental variables that all play a role in the longevity of women over men, we don’t know the extent to which each factor plays a role.
In spite of how much weight, we know that at least a portion of the reason women live so much longer than men today however not as previously, is to relate to the fact that some key non-biological factors have changed. What are these new factors? 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. We can see that every country is over the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl in all countries can be expected to live for 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 live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of just half a year.
The advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was lower in developed countries that it is today.
Let’s see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The next chart plots male and Ours.co.in/wiki/index.php/User:MillieU2093737 female life expectancy when they were born in the US over the period 1790-2014. Two specific points stand out.
There is an upward trend. Women and men in America have longer lives than they were 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.
There is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used to be quite small however, it has increased significantly over the last century.
If you select the option «Change country from the chart, you are able to determine if these two points are also applicable to other countries that have available data: Sweden, France and the UK.