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. Why do women live so much longer than men today and why does this benefit increase over time? The evidence isn’t conclusive and we’re only able to provide limited solutions. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women have longer lives than men, but we don’t know exactly what the contribution to each of these variables is.

In spite of the precise amount of weight, we are aware that at least part of the reason women live longer than men today, but not in the past, has to relate to the fact that certain key non-biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, 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 تخفيض ترتيب اليكسا 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 above the diagonal parity line ; which means that in every country a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a newborn boy.1

The chart below shows that although there is a women’s advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries can be significant. In Russia, women live 10 years more than males. In Bhutan the gap is only half a year.

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In rich countries the longevity advantage for women used to be smaller

We will now examine how the gender advantage in longevity has changed with time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US during the period 1790 to 2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Women and men living in America are living longer than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, the gap is getting wider: Although the advantage of women in life expectancy was once extremely small but it has risen significantly over time.

You can confirm that these are applicable to other countries that have data by selecting the «Change country» option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.

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