Why do women live 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’s the reason why women are more likely to live longer than men? And how has this advantage gotten larger over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence isn’t sufficient to support an absolute conclusion. We know there are biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that play an integral role in the longevity of women over men, we don’t know how much each one contributes.

It is known that women live longer than men, regardless of weight. However it 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. Other 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, Basic Entity Description Service 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 line of parity diagonally. This means that a newborn girl from every country could expect to live longer than her brother.

This chart illustrates that, although there is a women’s advantage across all countries, differences between countries can be substantial. In Russia women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.



In wealthy countries, the longevity advantage for women was previously smaller.

Let’s examine how the gender advantage in terms of longevity has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the gender-based and female-specific life expectancy at the time of birth in the US from 1790 to 2014. Two aspects stand out.

There is an upward trend. Both genders living in America are living longer 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 advantage of women in life expectancy used to be tiny It has significantly increased in the past.

If you select the option «Change country by country’ in the chart, you are able to verify that these two points also apply to other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.

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