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. Why do women live so much longer than men today and why have these advantages gotten bigger in the past? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to draw an absolute conclusion. We know there are biological, psychological and environmental factors which all play a part in women who live longer than men, we do not know the extent to which each factor plays a role.

In spite of the amount, we can say that at a minimum, the reason women live so much longer than men however not as in the past, is to do with the fact that several fundamental non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. 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 over the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl from every country could expect to live longer than her brother.

This chart is interesting in that it shows that, while the advantage for women exists across all countries, the difference between countries is huge. In Russia women are 10 years older than men, while in Bhutan the gap is just half one year.

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The advantage for women in terms of life expectancy was lower in rich countries than it is now.

Let’s see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancies at birth in the US between 1790 until 2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend: Men and women in the US are living much, كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be quite small, but it grew substantially during the last century.

You can verify that these principles are also 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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